Advertising outstrips porn as top malware gateway

Advertising has overtaken pornography as the number one mobile content leading to malware, according to the latest BlueCoat malware report

Advertising has overtaken pornography as the number one mobile content leading to malware, according to the latest BlueCoat malware report.

In 2013, 'malvertising' outstripped porn three-to-one as the top malware gateway.

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It found that advertising directed mobile users to malware through Web ads one in every five times.

For desktop users, search engine poisoning and email links are by far the most prevalent vectors that drive users to threats or malicious content.

But when we look at mobile users, however, we see a much different picture.

Search engines barely crack the top 10 -- sending unsuspecting users to malware only 3.13 per cent of the time.

Web ads, on the other hand, have outperformed even pornography.

In February 2014, web ads represented the single biggest threat vector for mobile users.

The rise of malvertising -- Web ads delivered through legitimate ad networks that direct users to malicious sites or contain malicious code -- as a leading attack vector mimics the rise of Web ad traffic on mobile devices.

This is a largely unregulated network of ad servers that can easily be tricked into serving malicious ads unknowingly.

According to the report, last year, when Blue Coat Security Labs looked at the mobile malware landscape, pornography was the leading threat vector for mobile users.

This year, it has dropped nearly six points and is the third leading threat vector, responsible to driving users to malware 16 percent of the time.

However, pornography remains the most dangerous category of content for mobile Users, the report said.

"With Web ads, the rise as a threat vector correlated with a rise in Web ad requests," the report said.

"The story is different for pornography. Requests for pornography on mobile devices don't even reach one percent of all requested content, yet it accounts for more than 16 per cent of all attacks.

"While users don't access pornography that frequently, when they do, they are very vulnerable to malware."

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