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Porn Downloads – More Than Meets The Eye!

Go to Best Buy, to the GEEK SQUAD desk and ask them this question:

When you get a computer just  full of viruses and trojans, what to you immediately consider to be the source, or the reason the computer was so infected?

Almost without exception, the tech will answer with one, or both, of the following:

  • “Someone is using the computer to visit hacking and illegal file-sharing sites“, and/or
  • “Someone is using the computer to surf porn sites“.

You see, it used to be so simple for the online pornography consumer.  He/she would download clips (or entire movies) off the Internet and, at worst, find a web address added at the beginning or end of the file, telling them where to go if they want more of the same.

It was safe, relatively speaking.

Then, the formats of video files began to change, and online video became a tool of hackers, crooks, and child pornographers.  That nice, safe video file became a vehicle for malicious software, aka “Malware”.

What happened?

Laptop w caution tape MediumAs with all computer related things, video file formats evolved and began to include the ability to include mini-programs called “scripts”.  Initially, it seemed, this new capability was used by pornographers to take you directly to their web site, past the “are you over/under 18” security page, so that you were suddenly viewing hardcore porn.

The benefits (to them) are obvious.  If they could get more of their “products” in front of you they have a better chance of  creating one of two desired responses:

  • “Wow! That looks REALLY interesting!”  or
  • “Whoa! They can DO that????”

But, if a video file containing a script could call-up and re-direct your web browser without your knowledge or permission, then the same file could be used for more sinister “payloads”, as they are often called.

These “payloads” can have many different types of purposes:

  • “Push” adult ads to your screen.
  • Take you to adult sites (sometimes opening multiple browser windows)
  • Search your hard drive for “secure” information such as bank account numbers and passwords.
  • Install “key-loggers” to capture EVERYTHING that you type, especially when ordering items online or doing online banking.
  • Install “bots” (PC robots) that allow them to take control of your computer for use in hacking and Internet attacks.
  • Install software that lets them store child pornography on YOUR computer, without your knowledge.

Some software infect media “players”, allowing them to re-infect video AND audio files (MP3, wmv, etc.).  As early as 2005 trojan malware was spreading by hiding in video and audio files that were infected by their PLAYERS. One infection in 2008 had the goal of spreading password loggers.

So, if someone wanted to spread viruses through media files, what do you think would be a great vehicle to use?  Porn files.  These are uploaded and downloaded constantly, but, pornography is far from the only “vehicle” for viruses and trojans.  ANY type of media file can be infected.

jailNot only can you be infected, but these infections can affect your livelihood.

Consider the case of Michael Fiola, an employee of the State of Massachusetts, whose laptop was found to have child pornography on it.  Investigation by his defense team revealed that the laptop had not been properly configured by his employer, making the laptop vulnerable to compromise.  LINK1 LINK2

Or, consider the the case of Julie Amero, a Connecticut substitute teacher charged with accessing pornography in class on a machine found to contain malicious software (malware) that called up porn sites on its own! LINK.

Now, these are just two cases, but they do point out the vulnerability to outside attack.

Malware can compromise your computer with pornography.  Or, it can load up your bookmarks with porn sites, redirect Google searches to porn sites, and other nasty actions.

And, it is not just the “regular web sites” that may be unsafe, but it has been reported that” almost ALL torrent” sites, where people illegally trade/download video and audio files, are unsafe.  Many “warez” hacker-related sites are also very “unsafe”, as well as site devoted to hacking games.

Keep in mind that this is just PART of the threat posed by malware.  But, porn sites, especially those that are not “corporate” sites (major commercial sites such as Playboy and others), are easy targets for hackers, and may even be operated by hackers.  And, keep in mind that not all hacker/porn/virus sites are in the U.S.!

Soldier 2So what should you do?

First off, DON’T PANIC!  Malware, in the form of viruses, trojans, and bots have been around for years and years.  You just need to follow a few simple guidelines:

  • When talking to your kids about the dangers of pornography, don’t forget to add the computer security dangers.
  • Emphasize that file-sharing software inherently blows a hole in the family’s computer protection.  Read this:  LINK
  • Make sure you have current versions of anti-virus and other anti-malware software.  This is a good idea no matter where you surf!
  • Ensure that any Windows machines are no longer using the WINDOWS UPDATE system but have switched to the MICROSOFT UPDATE system.  This ensures you are getting the latest security updates.
  • Stay away from sites related to: Porn, Warez, file-sharing, video game hacks, etc.
  • And, if you think an e-mail or web pop-up is fishy, KILL IT!

You never know what you’re downloading!

Or what it could cost you!

RESOURCES

What do I use?  It varies with the computer.

I have Microsoft ONECARE on computers that my family uses and that need a good degree of automation (This has been discontinued as the Windows 7 release date nears).  I also use the FREE VERSIONS of AD-AWARE and MALWARE BYTES on the same computers. (The free versions have less “automation” to regularly do scans, etc..)

On my “power user” computers that I maintain and constantly operate, I use AVG Anti-Virus and MALWARE BYTES.

You might also want to read “Virus Infection for Dummies“.  LINK.

Stay safe out there!

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