Security outfit Kaspersky Lab said its researchers used several different indicators to look at the threats to those who use porn websites. "We examined malware disguised as pornographic content, and malware that hunts for credentials to access pornography websites," the firm said.
"We looked at the threats that are attacking users across the Internet in order to find out which popular websites might be dangerous to visit.
"Additionally, we checked our phishing and spam database to see if there is a lot of pornographic content on file and how is it used in the wild. Using aggregated threat-statistics obtained from the Kaspersky Security Network we measured how often and how many users of our products have encountered adult-content themed threats."
Cyber criminals use popular porn-tags to promote malware in search results. The 20 most popular make up 80% of all malware disguised as porn. Overall, 87,227 unique users downloaded porn-disguised malware in 2018, with 8% using a corporate rather than personal network to do this.
In 2018, the number of attacks using malware to hunt for credentials that grant access to pornography websites grew almost three-fold compared to 2017, with more than 850,000 attempts to install such malware. The number of users attacked doubled, with 110,000 PCs being attacked across the world.
The number of unique sales offers of credentials for premium accounts to adult content websites almost doubled to more than 10,000.
Porn-themed threats increased in terms of number of samples, but declined in variety. In 2018, Kaspersky Lab identified at least 642 families of PC threats disguised under one common pornography tag. In terms of their malicious function, these families were distributed between 57 types (76 in 2017). In most cases they are are trojan-downloaders, trojans and adware.
Eighty-nine percent of infected files disguised as pornography on Android devices turned out to be adware.
In Q4 2018, there were 10 times as many attacks coming from phishing websites pretending to be popular adult content resources, compared to Q4 2017 when the overall figure reached 21,902 attacks.