Porn Surfing – Put a Software Condom on Your Computer!

OK, for the purists out there, maybe I should have used the word “prophylactic”, rather than condom. After all, the classical definition of a prophylactic is – a device that acts to defend against, or prevent something from occurring.

Online pornography is enormously popular. So popular that the pornography industry has revenues larger than the revenues of the top technology companies combined. That’s right, the combined revenues of Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, Apple, Netflix and EarthLink.

Three essential factors have impacted the popularity of Internet pornography:

Easy Internet access

The anonymity the Internet provides

Cost effectiveness

Experienced computer users however, are generally aware that pornographic web sites are notorious for spyware, viruses, browser exploits, and phishing attacks, on insufficiently protected computers.

The credibility of this view is emphasized by Esa Suurio, CEO of Against Intuition Inc., the company that supports Web of Trust, {see Like Porno Sites? – They LOVE You!), on this site, who concluded following a recent survey “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.

Pornography is what it is, I am not a member of the Morality Police, and I hold no religious or political views on the availability of pornography on the Internet; except of course, pornography which is clearly illegal, or morally reprehensible.

My main concern with pornographic Websites is focused instead, on the primary/secondary use that many of these sites are designed for – as a vehicle for the distribution of potentially harmful malware applications that can be surreptitiously dropped onto unwitting visitors computers.

The potential for damage to both computers and users is enormous, considering the confidential/financial data that can be stolen by keyloggers, tracking cookies, and other common forms of malware used by porn sites.

Unethical porno sites have a reputation for some, or all, of the following behavior:

Pop-up windows that are difficult, or impossible to close – Tip: Pressing the Control key and the W key simultaneously, will generally close pop-ups.

Browser hijacking.

Dropping spyware, viruses, Trojans, and rogue applications.

Requiring the installation of a plug-in or codec – a favorite method of malware insertion.

Be particularly cautious of so called “free three-day trial memberships”. These schemes are notorious for fraud and credit card scams. Just try to take advantage of a “free three-day trial memberships”, without providing credit card details.

Before surfing porn web sites:

Install the latest operating system updates, and patches, on your computer. This step is just common sense in all circumstances. Unpatched systems will be attacked! Unethical porn sites can drop malicious code which will exploit vulnerabilities in your browser or operating system. Just visiting these sites can infect, or damage your system.

Ensure you are using the latest version of your Internet Browser – known security holes in older Browser versions will be exploited.

Consider switching your Browser – Experienced computer users tend to use FireFox as they’re principal Internet Browser, since the security add-ons which are available, offer substantial protection from exploits. No Browser however, is totally secure against exploits.

Turn off JavaScript in your Browser.

Install effective ant-malware solutions on your computer. The following free anti-malware and system protection applications offer effective protection.

This list is not exhaustive. For more information and additional free anti-malware and system protection applications, read “The 35 Best Free Applications – Tried, Tested and Reliable!” on this site.

Firewall: Comodo Firewall Pro

The definitive free firewall in my view; Comodo Firewall protects your system by defeating hackers and restricting unauthorized programs from accessing the Internet.

Internet Browser protection: Web of Trust (WOT)

WOT is a free Internet Browser add-on (my personal favorite), that has established an impressive 4.5/5.0 star user rating on CNET. WOT tests web sites you are visiting for spyware, spam, viruses, browser exploits, unreliable online shops, phishing, and online scams, helping you avoid unsafe web sites.

(Click pic for larger) – In this Google seach for “hot porno sites”, notice that WOT indicates that out of the 6 sites illustrated, 2 are dangerous, 2 should be viewed with caution, 1 is an unknown quantity, and only 1 is safe.

Anti-virus: Avira AntiVir PersonalEdition Classic

This anti-virus program offers comprehensive protection with an easy to use interface. In the ten months I have been testing Avira I have been impressed with its performance, and I have come to rely on it as my primary anti-virus program. I highly recommend this one.

Anti-spyware: Spyware Terminator

Having tested virtually all of the major anti-spyware applications over the past year or more, I’ve settled, for now, on Spyware Terminator primarily due to its strong real-time protection against spyware, adware, Trojans, key-loggers, home page hijackers and other malware threats. Spyware Terminator excels in strong active protection against know and unknown threats.

Adware remover: Ad-Aware 2008

Many software reviewers consider Ad-Aware 2008 Free as the best free adware remover available. It does a relatively good job of protecting against known data-mining, Trojans, dialers, malware, browser hijackers and tracking components. The only downside with the free version is real-time protection is not included.

Zero-day malware protection: ThreatFire

ThreatFire blocks mal-ware, including zero-day threats, by analyzing program behavior and it does a stellar job. Again, this is one of the security applications that forms part of my front line defenses. I have found it to have high success rate at blocking mal-ware based on analysis of behavior.

How much information can a web site collect about you?

If you are interested in seeing just how much information your Internet Browser gives away about you and your computer system when you visit a web site, then checkout BrowserSpy.dk.

In my experience, most people are shocked at the amount of information that a web site is capable of collecting from a simple visit.

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7 Comments

Filed under Adware, Antivirus Applications, Browser add-ons, Don't Get Hacked, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Home Page Hijacking, Interconnectivity, Internet Safety, Malware Advisories, Online Safety, Safe Surfing, Software, Spyware - Adware Protection, System Security, Windows Tips and Tools

7 responses to “Porn Surfing – Put a Software Condom on Your Computer!

  1. Mr. Mullins–
    Thank you for another ‘grand slam’ of an article. I will be pointing it out to my readers for special attention.

    As a tech, I see the damage done by cyber-criminals every day, and I can attest that porn sites are — indeed — a favored delivery method.

    I don’t know why people tend to do riskier things when at a porn site (I mean, if you went to wikipedia, or.. travelosity, or youtube, and it said you needed to download a special codec, would you do it?), but they do.

    And I think there’s a certain.. “well, they got what they deserved” mindset too..

    • billmullins

      Hey TechPaul,

      Yes, having to download and install a video codec for any web site, but
      particularly a porn site, should put up an immediate “caution” sign.

      Good comment.

      Bill

  2. Bill,

    Great article… Sandboxie is another option that can be used when scratching the underbelly of the internet… AND TechPaul is correct in saying that people do riskier things when at porn sites… It’s like a deer in rut (they get dumb)…

    Rick

    • billmullins

      Hi Rick,

      Love the “deer in rut” analogy – that works for me!

      Good point on Sandboxie – definitely a proactive step to stop infections
      cold when, as you say, one is “scratching the underbelly of the Internet”.

      Bill

  3. Mark

    Yeah or you could just use something like ubuntu instead. That way if it actually tried to install something to the system it needs an andmin password by default. That and the fact that it just doesnt get windows viruses and spyware make it better for browsing porn.

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