In the early days of the Internet, porn sites were often filled with malicious code intended to steal information and hijack computers. As the years passed, computer-browsing habits got better and porn sites grew safer. It is no surprise that the same thing is happening on a new platform. This time, the target is your smartphone.

A new study performed by Blue Coat indicates that smartphone users to not often view porn on their devices. Less than a single percent of all mobile traffic involves porn. That one percent is unusually dangerous. Smartphones have very little built-in security compared to computers, and malware is on the rise. Nearly a full quarter of all smartphone malware infections come from porn sites. In fact, more malware stemmed from porn sites than from e-mail spam, fake apps and malicious websites combined.

The Dangers of Smartphones

Smartphones lack several critical protections that desktop PCs have. They have very little in the way of virus blockers and firewalls. They have no easy way to view a shortened URL, so you cannot easily determine whether a site is legitimate or not. Malware is a relatively new phenomenon for mobile devices, so they are not built with protections in mind.

Protection in mind is the foremost issue. PC users know that the Internet is a dangerous place. Their computers have software to help protect and prevent infections, and they have safe browsing habits engrained on them. Smartphone users don’t think about malware. Many people wouldn’t even believe a smartphone could be infected. This means many of them don’t have the safe habits they should to protect themselves.

Malware Evolution

The existence of malware on smartphones is mirroring that of viruses on PCs. Malicious code is often dangerous and occasionally disastrous, when it catches uses with the right vulnerability at the right time. Web-based malicious code is the start of the malware invasion. Smartphones will need more security, or they will find the web an increasingly unsafe place to be.

Porn sites are not inherently dangerous. Many of them are very legitimate — after all, they are businesses just like any other on the web. They rely on users paying for memberships or clicking advertisements, both on the PC and on mobile devices. They don’t make money if their customers stay away due to malware.

The problem smartphones present is the inability to differentiate easily between a legitimate site and a site likely to have malicious code. The primary indication is a redirect or shortened URL, which covers just about every URL on a smartphone.

Malware Sources

Smartphone viruses come from a variety of sources, not just porn sites. Fake apps are a leading cause. Without a virus scanner, there’s no way to tell if an app is malicious or not until your phone starts sending your personal information via text to a Russian number. You can check reviews, but they could be fraudulent. Many fake apps look shoddily designed simply to draw in consumers, but some of them are well designed and may even function normally, with the malicious code operating in the background.

Porn sites, as well as other malicious websites, are another large source. This is the one most likely to grow in the coming year. Some sites intentionally present malicious code, using certain content to draw in users. If cracks for apps were prevalent, likely those sites would be infected as well. One problem web owners face is that an advertiser may suddenly turn malicious. A bad advertisement on an otherwise legitimate site may cause a string of infections and drive legitimate traffic away.

Hooking up to an infected PC is another primary attack vector. Many PC viruses are now incorporating ways to spread to other devices. Even if the PC is suffering no ill effects, it might be dangerous to hook up your phone. No, PC viruses do not transfer to cell phones. What happens instead is that the PC virus senses a smartphone has been attached and downloads a smartphone-specific virus to install.

Protecting Yourself

As with PCs, there are ways to avoid malware on your smartphone. The largest, of course, is safe browsing habits. Your phone has a much lower chance of infection if you avoid visiting sites that might contain malicious code. Stick to sites you know and trust only. For the moment, this does mean to avoid most porn sites.

You will also want to disable bluetooth. Studies have shown that smartphones with active bluetooth are capable of sharing viruses with each other without any connection or prompting. Think of it like the computer virus version of an airborne flu.

Installing an antivirus app is critical for your protection as well. Each time you download an app, the antivirus will scan to make sure you’re not downloading anything malicious. Protecting yourself isn’t difficult, but many uses are simply not aware there is a problem.

1 comment

  1. R.T.D

Trackback e pingback

No trackback or pingback available for this article

Leave a Reply