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Of Porn and Prayer

By Eileen Feretic  |  Posted Friday, May 04, 2012 17:05 PM
 
 


By Tim Moran

It's all in the eye of the beholder. A recent story from NYDailyNews.com covered Symantec's annual "Internet Security Threat Report." Clearly, this kind of report is not something Daily News reporters and editors are used to perusing. In fact, they aren't even sure about the company's name, calling it "Symantic."

What's more interesting is how the site reported on the report.

This is the headline and lead taken directly from the Website:

"Religious blogs have a higher malware risk than porn, study finds"

"Porn is last of top 10 security threats."

"Religious Websites may be worse for your computer than porn destinations, a new report claims.

"Blogs and Websites featuring religious or ideological content are three times more likely than pornographic sites to be infected by malware, Symantic's (sic) latest Internet security threat report found."

Well, I checked and the Daily News story was correct. In the Symantec report--on page 33, mind you--under the heading "Website Malware," we find this:

"It is interesting to note that Websites hosting adult/pornographic content are not in the top five [most infected Websites], but ranked tenth. ... Moreover, religious and ideological sites were found to have triple the average number of threats per infected site than adult/pornographic sites."

Lordy! Who would have thought? Well, the report's authors, that's who, and their theory is--and this, too, was reported by the Daily News--that "because pornographic Website owners already make money from the Internet [they], as a result, have a vested interest in keeping their sites malware-free--[malware is] not good for repeat business."

What's truly wild here is that a tabloid newspaper that would otherwise never dream of mentioning Symantec (except, perhaps, in the business pages), managed to find a porn angle in this reputable study, thereby making it interesting to its readers. If you are not familiar with this report, it is a very neat thing, replete with charts and timelines and infographics and all kinds of cool data about phishing, rootkits, zombie bots (the Daily News missed the zombie angle, apparently), spam, zero-day vulnerabilities, and the like.

For instance, 2011 saw:

• 403 million unique variants of malware versus 286 million in 2010 • 315 new mobile vulnerabilities (up from 163) • 55,294 unique malicious Web domains (up from 42, 926) • An overall email virus rate of 1 in 239.

Suffice it to say, if you have any interest in Internet security--and who can afford not to--this is a report well worth flipping through, if not reading it in its entirety.

Here's another little gem--from page 12--regarding cyber-espionage and targeted attacks: "In terms of people who are being targeted, it's no longer only CEOs and senior level staff. 58 percent of the attacks are going to people in other job functions such as Sales, HR, Executive Assistants, and Media/Public Relations. This could represent a trend in attackers focusing their attention on lower hanging fruit."

That's good, actionable, stuff--even if it's not scandalous.