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SecurityThreatsFromTheRedLightDistrict

Security Threats in the Internet's Red Light District

Posted by ClifNotes, Jun 2008, permalink Windows Tips

 

Earlier this year, I wrote about the WOT web browser plugin, which is designed to protect you against malicious websites. It allows the users of the plugin to report bad sites and vote on them. The folks at WOT also use many other sources of information to augment the protection they offer.

 

Here's a letter from one of the people there. It warns us about adult websites and the dangers we risk when visiting them.

 

From Deborah at WOT:

Dear Clif,

This press release will be sent out next week through normal channels, but I wanted to send you a preview in hopes that you would find it interesting for the readers of your blog. I don't wish to bother you, so please inform me if you do not wish to receive information from WOT.

 

Yours sincerely,

Deborah Salmi

www.mywot.com

 

WOT Finds Increased Security Threats in the Internet's Red Light District: Adult Sites Cause the Most Damage to Internet Users

 

Websites offering adult content are the single most significant security threat for Internet users, comprising 31% of dangerous websites. Corporate and home users face an increased risk from web-based security threats such as spyware, viruses, browser exploits and phishing attacks when visiting adult sites.

 

The WOT, Web of Trust study of 19 million sites covered by the website reputation database was conducted from March to May 2008 and focused on dangerous sites (1 in 20 sites). The key finding revealed that sites containing pornography are the biggest threat for companies and individuals with a potential for financial and data loss as well as computer and network damage. Other dangerous sites were those that offered software (26%) and entertainment (14%) such as games, videos, and music. The main vehicle of attack is a permanent website, unlike the temporary sites used in phishing attacks carried out with the aid of fraudulent email messages. Dangerous sites usually remain operational for months or years, attracting millions of visitors and causing them damage.

 

Adult content security issue still in the closet

"Visiting the red light district of the Internet makes the user vulnerable to spyware, viruses and leakage of confidential information which can cause significant damage," said Esa Suurio, CEO of Against Intuition Inc., the company that supports Web of Trust. "Given the size of the problem there has been surprisingly little debate on the topic. Perhaps the suffering parties, individuals and companies, hesitate to express their complaints in public."

 

Web security the weakest point in an organization's defense

Employees who use company computers, either in the office or remotely, to access inappropriate sites, put their company at risk by introducing malware, viruses and spyware which can cause a security breach in the organization. The potential for damage is enormous, from inside and outside their firewalls, considering that confidential data can be stolen by keyloggers and tracking cookies, a common form of malware used by porn sites.

 

Home computers at risk from adult content security threat

Ninety percent of school-age children have viewed porn online, most while doing their homework. Children can inadvertently access pornography by innocently mistyping or using popular search terms, landing on misleading URLs and from misuse of brand names by those intentionally exposing them to porn. Unsuspecting victims can easily be fooled by drive-by downloads containing a virus that automatically redirects them to adult-related sites exposing their computer to malware. Once compromised, home computers are vulnerable to browser exploits and other security risks.

 

Enhanced coverage of adult content in WOT

In order to improve the protection from threats associated with adult content websites, the WOT database has been enhanced with double the coverage of pornographic sites. WOT has information on nearly 1 million sites that are rated poorly for child safety. The month's long project was made possible by using a crawler created by WOT engineers to find the relationships and interconnectedness between sites with adult content. Sophisticated algorithms were used to filter out non-adult content and ensure accurate results. The Porn Links Galaxy photo set includes graphics designed to show the magnitude of links from one porn site to many others, sometimes numbering in the thousands. http://flickr.com/photos/mywot/sets/72157605676861378/

 

Supporting statistics

4.2 million pornographic websites

 

420 million pages of adult content

 

11 new porn sites are created each hour

 

34% of Internet users received unwanted exposure to porn

 

The average age of first Internet exposure to pornography is 11

 

Malware and phishing attacks cost computer users $18 million per year

 

WOT offers preventive protection against online security threats and adult content

Web of Trust is a people-driven security tool that warns Internet users about dangerous and suspicious websites. WOT has hundreds of thousands of users and safety ratings of 19 million websites, including nearly 1 million sites that are unsafe for children. WOT works with Internet Explorer and Firefox browsers and is a free download. www.mywot.com

 

About Against Intuition Inc.

Against Intuition Inc. focuses on developing and providing software and services for the WOT community and promotes the community's goals to make the Internet safer. For further information, see about us

 

WOT Demo video

http://www.mywot.com/demo

 

Images

Images of sample screen prints, company logos, and photos of key personnel: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mywot/sets

 

Market facts, related links and research about Internet safety

http://del.icio.us/mywot

 

Technorati links

http://technorati.com/blogs/tag/mywot

 

Contacts

Deborah Salmi

phone: +358 40 735 6640

Address: Against Intuition Inc. Italahdenkatu 27 A 00210 Helsinki Finland

Email: deborah AT mywot DOT com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/deborahsalmi

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/debsalmi

 

Name: Esa Suurio CEO

Phone: +358 40 7169301

Address: Against Intuition Inc. Italahdenkatu 27 A 00210 Helsinki Finland

Email: esa.suurio@mywot.com

Web site: http://www.mywot.com

Blog: http://www.mywot.com/blog