Science Confirms Porn Sites Are Shockingly Corrupt

Last week at a symposium on information security at Harvard, researchers presented the truly shocking results of their investigation — Going to random porn sites could be putting your personal information at risk! (Insert sound of jaws dropping here).

“There are studies looking at the profitability and economics of the industry but we are the first to come at it from a security and more technical point of view,” explains the guy who led the study, which most certainly wasn’t a boondoggle to get research money just to look at porn online.

Scanning through 269,000 websites, the research team found that around 3.23% of these sites “were booby-trapped with adware, spyware and viruses.”

Significantly more prevalent is the use of “shady” practices, like javascript catchers that attempt to trap people on the page, scripts that re-direct visitors to an affiliated site, since these referrals are the top way most of these free sites make their cash, whether or not the user intended to click through or not.

“Visitors are being abused as click bots,” explains the team leader. “It’s cut-throat competition… Everybody tries to get as much traffic as possible.”

Not content to merely study existing porn sites, the research team actually created their own pair of sites, using free content provided by pay porn sites.

About 40% of the 49,000 visitors who happened by the researchers’ two sites had computer and browser setups that left them open to some sort of breach.

Says Dr. Porn-Researcher (not his real name):

As an attacker you want to make your life easier… If you can have these 20,000 people come to a place instantly, why not?

The doc says that, if you’re going to look at porn sites — and the numbers say that if you’re a guy, you’re probably going to at some point — practice safe surfing. Keep your security software up to date and use the “safe browsing” mode on your browser.

Over to the researcher for a final word:

For the average user it might be hard to tell an honest porn site from a dishonest porn site until you click on something.

‘Shady’ porn site practices put visitors at risk [BBC]