Web Ads Outstrip Porn as Top Malware Gateway

Mar 14, 2014 12:30 PM PST

CYBERSPACE — Advertising has overtaken porn as the number one type of mobile content leading to malware, according to the latest BlueCoat malware report.

In 2013, “malvertising” — web ads delivered through legitimate ad networks that direct users to malicious sites or contain malicious code —  outstripped porn three-to-one as the top malware gateway.

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

But mobile users face very different afflictions: search engines only send unsuspecting users to malware 3.13 percent of the time. Web ads, however, outperformed porn in leading to malware.

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

The rise of malvertising as a leading attack vector mimics the rise of web ad traffic on mobile devices, which 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, porn was the leading threat vector for mobile users.

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

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