Study: Religious Sites Offer More Malware Than Porn Sites

Apr 30, 2012 11:00 AM PST

SAN FRANCISCO — In a surprising report, security firm Symantec says that religious and ideological websites can carry three times more malware threats than porn sites.

Symantec made the announcement in its annual Internet Security Threat Report, finding that the average number of security threats on religious sites was around 115, while porn sites only carried around 25 threats per site.

Symantec also said that only 2.4 percent of porn sites were found to be infected with malware, compared to 20 percent of blogs.

"We hypothesize that this is because pornographic website owners already make money from the Internet and, as a result, have a vested interest in keeping their sites malware-free — it’s not good for repeat business," researchers wrote.

Symantec measured an increase of more than 81 percent in malware in 2011 over 2010, while the number of malware variants increased by 41 percent. The firm said that its determined that 61 percent of malicious sites are actually "regular websites that have been compromised and infected with malicious code."

"It is interesting to note that websites hosting adult/pornographic content are not in the top five, but ranked 10th," Symantec researchers said.

The security firm also noted that threats to mobile devices continue to grow, particularly with Google’s Android mobile OS.   

The report found more than half of all Android threats collect device data or track user activities. One-fourth of the mobile threats identified were designed to make money by sending premium messages from infected phones.

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