Mobile Ads Overtake Porn As Most Likely Way To Get Malware On Your Phone

While malware dressed in pornography’s clothing used to be the most tempting for smartphone users, it’s been overtaken recently by mobile ads, says one online security company in its latest report. Which means that either our big clumsy figures are accidentally hitting things or we’d rather look at ads than naked body parts.

In any case, Blue Coat lists “Avoid clicking on ads on your mobile device” as a best practice in its newest report, via Quartz.

It says that you’re now more likely to fall down a rabbit hole of malware via an ad instead of porn because attackers use legitimate ad networks to complete their dastardly deeds. They’ll use those networks to put out ads telling mobile users there’s a virus on the phone, and when you hit “OK” on the ad, a fake system warning pops up and prompts the user to download an “anti-virus app.”

By downloading that app the villains have a way to get the user to change the phone’s settings, allowing third-party downloads, effectively giving the malware permission to steal your personal information or install more sketchy software.

Blue Coat says malicious ads made up one-fifth of all attacks on smartphones in February this year, up a whopping 400% from November 2012. Porn is now only responsible for 16% of all attacks — but it makes up jusst 1% of mobile traffic — compared to the 20% slice ads have in overall traffic — so it’s not like it’s totally innocent.

As long as you’re vigilant and read EVERYTHING you agree to when downloading apps, you should be fine. Just don’t keep going along with prompts like a chump. And probably try to avoid porn on your phone while you’re at it. No judgment, just don’t want you to get malware up in your business.

You can follow MBQ on Twitter where she will not post porn or mobile ads: @marybethquirk

Ads have displaced porn as the top source for malware on your mobile phone [Quartz]