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Malware that hunts for account credentials on adult websites tripled in 2018

The number of detections for malware strains that hunt for login credentials on adult-themed websites tripled in 2018, while the number of adverts selling access to hacked accounts on porn portals doubled, according to a report published today by Kaspersky Labs.

“In 2018, the number of attacked users doubled, reaching more than 110,000 PCs across the world,” Kaspersky researchers said. “The number of attacks almost tripled, to 850,000 infection attempts.”

There were multiple malware families configured to search for login credentials on adult sites last year, however, according to Kaspersky, the most active was the Jimmy trojan, a lesser known malware family that is spread primarily via email spam.

This was somewhat surprising to researchers when compared to a year before, in 2017, when the most active strains were three very large cybercrime operations –namely the Betabot, Neverquest, and Panda banking trojans.

But this wasn’t the only major change in adult site login harvesting. Another new development was that in 2018 most porn login-hunting malware focused on stealing credentials from only two sites –Pornhub and XNXX.

This was different from the previous year when malware targeted more sites, such as the likes of Brazzers, Chaturbate, Pornhub, Myfreecams, Youporn, Wilshing, Motherless, XNXX, and X-videos.

The reason why cyber-criminal groups bothered collecting these credentials was that they were searching for premium accounts that they could later hijack from legitimate owners and put up for sale on underground forums and Dark Web marketplaces.

Premium accounts on adult portals can cost as much as $30 per month or $150 per year, but crooks are re-selling hacked ones for just a small portion of their original price.

“Regardless of the type of account, the prices vary from $3 to $9 per offer, very rarely exceeding $10 – the same as back in 2017, with the vast majority of prices being limited to $6-$7 or the equal amount in bitcoins, which is 20 times cheaper than the most modest annual memberships” researchers said.

Credentials for adult websites put up for sale on the Dark Web

Image: Kaspersky Lab

Kaspersky said they analyzed the top 20 Dark Web marketplaces and found more than 3,000 offers for credentials to adult content websites.

Taking into account websites on the public internet, they found 29 websites hosting more than 15,000 packages for accounts on various adult portals, double the equivalent 2017 figure.

But besides the underground business of stealing and selling credentials of adult sites, the Kaspersky report also looked at other facets of the malware scene that abuses adult-themed lures and topics.

The report’s findings don’t shock anyone in the cyber-security field, where adult content is one of the main lures cyber-criminal groups prefer to use to attract users on malicious sites or trick into opening boobytrapped and malware-laced files. The rest of the Kaspersky findings are below:

  • Searching for pornography online has become safer: in 2018, 650,000 users faced attacks launched from online resources. That is 36% less than in 2017 when more than a million of these attacks were detected.
  • Cybercriminals are actively using 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% of them 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 attacked PCs 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 the number of samples, but declined in terms of 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 last year). In most cases they are are Trojan-Downloaders, Trojans and AdWare.
  • 89% 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.

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