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Advertising is now worse than porn for smartphone health

by Mark Tyson on 13 March 2014, 11:22

Tags: Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), PC

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qacbyz

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New figures published by security firm Blue Coat Security Labs show that adverts with embedded malware are now the largest treat to mobile device security. Its latest findings show that one in every five ads on mobiles drive users to threats or malicious content. The last time such malware threats were surveyed, back in November 2012, adverts were ranked fourth place, with porn as the 'top threat vector'.

Blue Coat says that while the malware threats are significant on mobiles it is perhaps surprising it isn't even worse "given the proliferation of the devices and the roughly 1.5 billion new ways to steal data, passwords or money." However it warns that; "Over the last several years, mass market malware has developed into a robust, highly functioning, if highly illegal economy. Cybercriminals can purchase exploit kits and even new vulnerabilities on the open (black) market. They can rent botnets, sell the data they steal and are even protected by service-level agreements". Meanwhile most of the attacks upon mobile users' security involve social engineering where a user agrees to change security settings, download an app or give other permissions to a third party.

You can clearly see the rise of web ads as the biggest threat vector to mobiles. This 'malvertising' is often from lesser known ad networks that are 'tricked' into unknowingly serving malicious ads, says Blue Coat. While you can see that malvertising is now the top dog for mobile malware that doesn't mean that porn browsing on mobiles has got any safer. Blue Coat reminds us that "Requests for pornography on mobile devices don’t even reach one percent of all requested content, yet it accounts for more than 16 percent of all attacks. While users don’t access pornography that frequently, when they do, they are very vulnerable to malware."

Blue Coat has a number of suggestions for mobile users to stay safe with a series of 'best practices' call outs in its report. Safety conscious advice includes:

  • Avoid pornography on your mobile devices.
  • Avoid clicking on ads on your mobile device.
  • Never download or purchase an app outside of legitimate markets such as the App Store or Google Play.


HEXUS Forums :: 5 Comments

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“Never download or purchase an app outside of legitimate markets such as the App Store or Google Play.”

Really depends what it is. I use tubemate which is not on the Play store, guess Google don't want people downloading youtube videos so easily!

My mum installed some video player from the Play store to watch avi's on her Nexus 5. Without warning it took over her lockscreen and was throwing up ads for great bargains every two seconds. I imagine Apple are a lot stricter with their store so there's less chance of that with them, Google just seem to let any old app onto the store until someone complains!
“Avoid clicking on ads on your mobile device” doesn't bode well for advertisers!
Dodgy ads are one of many reasons I use ad-blockers on all devices, and I think this is pretty common (but also doesn't bode well for advertisers). I'll occasionally let a site through if I'm a site regular but only so long as the ads are non intrusive.

I imagine if everyone did this or more devices came with ad-blockers by default the situation would be a lot better, although there would eventually be a lot less free content on the web…
Frankenfurter
Dodgy ads are one of many reasons I use ad-blockers on all devices, and I think this is pretty common (but also doesn't bode well for advertisers). I'll occasionally let a site through if I'm a site regular but only so long as the ads are non intrusive.

I imagine if everyone did this or more devices came with ad-blockers by default the situation would be a lot better, although there would eventually be a lot less free content on the web…
There was this discussion last year about the merits of wholesale ad blocking. I remember that someone from the Hexus team pointed out that the only reason that this (excellent!) site is free is because it's ad supported. So no ads means having to put up a paywall and I don't think that anyone is a big fan of that idea.
New figures published by security firm Blue Coat Security Labs show that adverts with embedded malware are now the largest treat to mobile device security.
… and this is why you need to buy our latest mobile security suite ? :p
Cynicism aside, I actually do run an anti-malware suit (AVG's) on my phone. But I only do that because it was inexpensive and isn't intrusive. Made the mistake of leaving my Bluetooth on (and visible) the other day and someone/something tried to push content to it. :o

Oh, and “porn on a smartphone” - anyone that desperate that they get jollies from a tiny badly-pixelated image? Ah well, it takes all sorts I guess.

And yes I know - large screen phones (5“+) is the answer to the ”tiny“ bit, and 4G for the ”badly pixelated" part.
;)
crossy
There was this discussion last year about the merits of wholesale ad blocking. I remember that someone from the Hexus team pointed out that the only reason that this (excellent!) site is free is because it's ad supported. So no ads means having to put up a paywall and I don't think that anyone is a big fan of that idea.



Oh, and “porn on a smartphone” - anyone that desperate that they get jollies from a tiny badly-pixelated image? Ah well, it takes all sorts I guess.

Yes I know ad-blockers are a problem too, but unfortunately so many sites let themselves get wrecked by ads that blockers are more or less a necessity as far as I'm concerned, especially on mobile where you might be paying for the bandwidth. Luckily most blockers have white lists, it's just up to users to well… use them… and sites to avoid the sort of ads that make people run blockers in the first place.


And I don't think screen size will stop people, folk'll be watching it on Google Glass soon I bet. :rolleyes: