Are All Porn Sites Really Riddled with Malware?

LiveScience.com

Pornographic websites, or at least some of them, contain a lot of malware that could infect visitors, a British researcher has found.

That contradicts two earlier studies, which concluded that porn sites were actually less — or at least no more — riddled with malware than general-interest websites.

Traditional wisdom holds that porn sites are some of the most frequent purveyors of system-impairing malware. This notion is not always false (just visit a few porn sites if you're skeptical), but according to IT expert Conrad Longmore, it's not always true, either.

Six out of 10 of the Web's most popular porn sites are squeaky-clean, and of the remaining four, the infection rates are still relatively low.

Longmore analyzed metrics for 10 popular porn sites. He catalogued each site's relative risk, the number of a site's infected pages compared with its number of total pages and the amount of users who click on any given page. From these statistics, Longmore calculated the probability of contracting malware from visiting each site.

The results were more encouraging than Longmore expected. Porn sites xvideos.com, livejasmin.com, redtube.com, xnxx.com, youporn.com, and adultfriendfinder.com earned a 0 percent risk rating.

In contrast, a well-known site referencing a male sex function earned 2 percent, tube8.com earned 14 percent, xhamster earned 42 percent and pornhub.com scored a staggering 53 percent. In other words, if you consume porn from pornhub.com, you are more than likely to come away with something unpleasant on your system. [See also: How New Tech Keeps Your Racy Photos Private]

These sites are probably not to blame for attempting to infect users with malware; after all, compromised users will not (or cannot) return to the site to provide additional hits. Similarly, advertisers are not likely to employ malware, since it would render their sites unusable.

Instead, Longmore theorizes that third-party intermediary sites are to blame. Sites such as crakmedia.com, trafficjunky.net and traffichaus.com facilitate links between various porn sites, and disseminate malware as they link from place to place.

One year ago, Symantec found that only 2.4 percent of porn sites were infected, while nearly 20 percent of blogs were. Two months ago, Cisco found that general-interest websites had higher infection rates than "fringe" sites, thanks to corrupted ad networks.

This study does not suggest that porn sites are entirely safe, but perhaps their bad reputation is not wholly deserved. Browse safely, but by all means, go ahead and browse.

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