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In a paper titled “Is the Internet for Porn? An Insight Into the Online Adult Industry” and presented at The Workshop on the Economics of Information Security conference, researchers spent $161.84 to have approximately 49,000 visitors directed to their adult web sites. As visitors arrived, the research adult web sites would check to see if the browsers had current versions of the Adobe Flash plugin, the Adobe PDF plugin and a Microsoft Office plugin. All of these plugins have had remotely exploitable vulnerabilities. The researchers discovered that over 20,000 of their visitors had at least one outdated plugin, which means that these visitors are easy victims for drive by infections.
The researchers did conclude that adult oriented web sites tend to be more dangerous than other web sites, but you would be wrong to believe that the risk is insignificant if you don’t visit such web sites. The criminals are also targeting legitimate web sites. The criminals are always trying to make sure that when you search for something on the web, their malicious web sites will be at the top of your results.
I’ve said it on many other occasions, but it is worth repeating again, keep those third party programs up to date!!! I highly recommend that home users take advantage of the Secunia Personal Software Inspector (PSI) at http://www.secunia.com. This free utility can help you keep your software current. Even if you limit your browsing to “clean” web sites, having vulnerable software puts you at considerable risk.
Director of Technical Education
Author ESET Research, ESET