Monday, June 04, 2007

Adult Related Content - Fuel For Spyware And Spam

Yes, our weekly article is back on track, due to time constraints and a huge workload, I was unable to write articles for the blog the last couple of months. Things are slowly getting back to normal and hopefully I will be able to fill our regular timeslot each week with a brand new article about cyber crime.

Before we get to this week's article, just a little interesting background information. The article was initially titled "Hardcore Porn - Fuel For Spyware And Spam". According to EzineArticles, this is in violation of Section 2-a of their Editorial Guidelines, more specifically "Website/Author/Brand Names are not Allowed in Your Title". My idea behind the words "Hardcore Porn" was to emphasise the hardcore facts that we are stuck with the most explicit and disgusting material shoved down our throats (and the throats of our children) everyday. I had to change the title to get it approved on EzineArticles, hence I stuck to the same title here.

Do you think Hardcore Porn is a brand name? Generally speaking, isn't this exactly the reason why we are stuck with this junk in our mailboxes? A brand being protected instead of our freedom to use the Internet without being plagued by psychopaths and sex maniacs. What do you think? Please post your comments.

Article written by Coenraad De Beer

People can't thank you enough when you helped them to get rid of spyware from their computer. But this gratefulness soon changes to disgruntlement when you tell them they need to stay away form their favourite porn websites, 3d sex games, sexy desktop mates and screen savers if they do not want to fall victim to another spyware attack. For these people it is too much to sacrifice, but what they don't realise or don't want to accept, is that all these things are not worth the damage they may cause.

Porn is not good for the human psyche, it becomes an addiction just like any other addictive substance. Whether you believe porn is immoral or not, is beside the point, it remains a fact and it is no good for your computer either. But lets forget about the adults for a while and think about our children. In homes where everyone does not have his or her own computer, is a family computer, used by each member of the family. If mom or dad surfs porn websites, do you think it will remain for the eyes of mom and dad only? Unfortunately no. It is not only mom or dad who gets hooked on porn, the family computer gets hooked as well, hooked by spyware. These websites make sure you come back for more by constantly throwing offensive pop-up advertisements in your face while browsing the Web or simply by working on your computer while being connected to the Internet. The spyware does not know and does not care who is in front of the computer screen, it is only the ad that counts.

A while ago I worked with a HijackThis log from someone struggling with annoying website redirects and Google warning him about being infected with spyware. I replied with the disinfection instructions, but also warned him about the adult related software that caused the infections. I never received any response from him, he was probably not prepared to get rid of his virtual desktop girlfriend. I guess he must love her very much for being willing to sacrifice his own online security, privacy and the freedom to browse without being redirected to websites he does not want to visit. Not my idea of an ideal relationship. The best of all is that this person also had Parental Control Software installed on his computer. This is either a naughty teenager bypassing the content filters installed by his parents, or even worse, a father who believes the content filters will prevent his children from being exposed by the filthy software installed on the computer. Parental content filters and control software are designed for Internet adult content filtering, like offensive images, websites, e-mails and text, not spyware or adult related software already installed and allowed to run on your computer. Using parental monitoring software (which does not block content) may help you monitor the activities of your children online, but it does not prevent them from being exposed to adult content in the first place. Anyway, what does it help to monitor your children if you can't set them a better example yourself?

With all the free e-mail services available today, everyone with Internet access have their own e-mail account, even your children. Some spyware programs are also e-mail address harvesters. When a child uses the same computer a parent or older family member use for browsing porn sites, chances are good that this poor child will fall victim to endless offensive, disgusting and explicit adult related e-mails. Everyone who uses the infected computer is at risk. If the spyware is a keylogger, the e-mail address is stolen the moment you type your e-mail address into a web form, this can be the page where you log into your e-mail account or when you sign up for a newsletter or web service. The most common method used by spyware is the extraction of e-mail addresses from the e-mail accounts set up with e-mail clients like MS Outlook, Outlook Express or Thunderbird. The spyware may even pull all the addresses from your address book and you may end up becoming a distributor of spam without even knowing it. I don't think your friends and family will be chuffed if they receive porn spam because of your inability to control yourself. If you continue to browse porn websites with the same computer used by your children for e-mail and other Internet activities, don't be surprised if they suddenly ask you out of the blue about Viagra or genital enlargement patches.

When your e-mail address lands on a spammer's list, you are in a catch-22 situation. It is futile to try and get your e-mail address removed from this list. By the time you succeed in getting your e-mail address removed, which is in any case unlikely to happen, your e-mail address will be distributed among many other spammers. Once a spammer has your e-mail address, it is an open channel for him to send you absolutely anything under the sun and no spammer is ethical, they don't mind how many children they pollute with porn spam, as long as someone reads their e-mails, they are happy.

Porn and spam have 2 things in common, they waste bandwidth and they are the same thing over and over again. Many people believe that porn is only innocent mischievousness. Whenever you encounter cyber crime, porn and adult related content is often involved. In a recent article by ( it was mentioned that adult sites are special favourites for causing trojan infections, taking control over your computer once you visit the website. I find it hard to believe that something that's responsible for things like trojan horses, identity theft, spam and many other cyber crimes, can be innocent.

Taking action against the injustice committed against our children, committed against the people who don't want this junk shoved down their throats, is really hard with poor legislation and so many people supporting the sites responsible for it. Many people browse porn websites without realising the dangers they pose (no pun intended). Off course many people don't care about these dangers, even if they know about it. It is just like any other addiction, people smoking crack don't care about the negative effects it has on their health. Next time when you have to convince someone about the harmful effects of porn, tell them about the dangers of visiting these sites. Educating people about the dangers of web porn and porn spam is the best way to battle an ever-increasing problem in cyber space.

About the Author
Coenraad is webmaster and founder of Cyber Top Cops, leaders in Internet security, prevention of online fraud and raising awareness about online scams and malicious software.

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