Mobile threats spread under guise of porn content doubled in 2019

The number of mobile users attacked by pornographic content grew two-fold in 2019, reaching 42,973 users compared to the 19,699 who were targeted in 2018, cybersecurity firm Kaspersky said in a new report.

Adult content, just as is the case with other types of entertainment, remains one of the most prominent ways malefactors try to infect devices.

Moreover, due to its rather sensitive nature and the reasonable desire among users to keep their browsing experience private, porn remains of particular interest to cybercriminals.

While various schemes involving phishing, spam and even various sex-related ransomware have been around for years, cybercriminals do not stop at that and continually work on expanding attack vectors and perfecting the methods of those attacks.

With the rise of mobile devices that can be used for virtually anything — from work to entertainment — porn-related mobile threats are becoming more relevant as well.

“As users are becoming more mobile, so are cybercriminals. We have seen that although PC malware distribution has been dropping, mobile malware is on the rise,” Dmitry Galov, security researcher at Kaspersky, said in a statement.

“While we have not witnessed many changes in the techniques used by cybercriminals, statistics show that this topic remains a steady source of threats and users need to be aware of that, taking steps to protect access to the valuable data they keep on their devices.”

To learn more about mobile threats related to illicit content, researchers at Kaspersky checked all files disguised as porn videos or adult content related installation packages for Android and ran 200 popular porn tags against this database.

The analysis showed that advertisement software, used to show and redirect users to unwanted advertising pages, remains the most prominent mobile threat both in variety and in the number of attacked users.

Out of the top 10 porn-related threats for mobile users in 2019, seven belonged to this class of threat.

Most users have been targeted by advertisement application detected as AdWare.AndroidOS.Agent.f, with 35.18 per cent of mobile users targeted by it in 2019, Kaspersky said.

This type of threat is typically distributed through various affiliate programmes, which has a purpose to earn money per installation or for the victim to download malicious applications.

“One cannot ignore how these attacks abuse user privacy as well — with data leaks and personal or private information being sold on the dark market for very small fees,” Galov said.

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