According to research by NordVPN, one of the leading cybersecurity companies, adult content, streaming, and video hosting sites have the most security and privacy threats, such as malware, intrusive ads, and trackers.  Research shows that NordVPN’s Threat Protection feature, whose sole purpose is to protect people from such threats, blocked 344M trackers, 341M intrusive ads, and 506K malware infections in the month of December 2022 alone.

“The online world is challenging people in every single move they make. Want to read an article? Dozens of ads and pop-ups are ready to immediately cover your screen. Another privacy threat – malware – is lurking for you on websites and in files you are about to download. Websites you browse are also full of third-party trackers that analyze your browsing history to find out what you do online. It depends on you to stop it,” says Adrianus Warmenhoven, a cybersecurity advisor at NordVPN.

What is a malware?

on the laptop creating malware to bypass online security
Malware attacks are usually executed from computer devices (© Pexels)

A malware, short for “malicious software,” is a type of software specifically designed to cause harm to computer systems, networks, or mobile devices. Malware can take many different forms, including viruses, worms, Trojan horses, ransomware, spyware, and adware, among others.

This is a significant problem because it can compromise the security of a system, steal personal information, and cause irreparable damage to data and hardware. A malware can infect a device or network through various means, such as phishing emails, malicious downloads, or social engineering tactics. Once installed, it can give attackers unauthorized access to sensitive data, monitor user activity, and manipulate files and processes on the infected system.

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The effects of malware can be devastating, leading to loss of data, financial loss, and identity theft. Nowadays, it is crucial to protect your devices and networks by using reputable antivirus and anti-malware software, regularly updating operating systems and software, and avoiding suspicious downloads and emails. By taking proactive measures to prevent malware infections, users can safeguard their personal and professional information and maintain the security and integrity of their devices and networks.

Adult content sites contain the biggest amount of malware

adult sites content risk security
Research concludes that adult content sites are subject to the most security threats (© NordVPN)

NordVPN research shows that adult content sites (21%), as well as cloud storage providers (14%) and entertainment sites (11%), contain the biggest amount of malware. In December, Threat Protection blocked 60.4K, 40.1K, and 30.9K domains of these categories respectively. Among the most common types of malware  are viruses, spyware, worms, trojans, adware, scareware, ransomware, and fireless malware.

Streaming media sites have the most intrusive ads

streaming videos with invasive and irrelevant ads
Most video streaming sites expose users to irrelevant ads (© Pexels)

Intrusive advertising refers to pushing invasive and irrelevant ads in front of consumers. They irritate users by popping up unexpectedly, blocking the host page, opening new pages and windows, or playing video and audio at inopportune times.

As for intrusive ads, the majority of them were found on streaming (23%), adult content (16%), and online shopping (9%) sites. Threat Protection detected and blocked millions of them: 552M, 389M, and 226M respectively.

“Today, ad blockers are essential for both security because they block ads that can infect people’s devices and privacy because annoying ads rely on collecting data from web activity and violating people’s privacy. Also, if a website is loading slower than usual, you can blame intrusive ads. Free apps filled with unwanted ads could also drain your device’s battery faster,” explains Adrianus Warmenhoven.

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Video hosting sites have the biggest number of trackers

hackers can spy on your online activity
Hackers can take advantage of user data to spy on people and invade privacy (© Pexels)

While many trackers are a tool for advertising and improving user experience, they may also become handy for online spies. Internet service providers (ISPs), marketing agencies, social media companies, and governments can access your online actions and breach your privacy.

NordVPN’s Threat Protection showed that video hosting sites (22%), cloud storage providers (16.31%), web email (16.25%), and information technology sites (12%) have the most trackers. Video hosting sites alone had 239 billion trackers blocked by Threat Protection in December 2022.

It’s worth adding that earlier NordVPN research showed that the average number of trackers per website is highest in Hong Kong (45.4 trackers), Singapore (33.5), the United States (23.1), and Australia (18.6).

Threat Protection scans your files before you download them, identifies threats, and blocks them before they can harm your device. The feature is free with every NordVPN subscription – and it allows you to go online without leaving a trace, protecting your privacy and improving your digital security.

Header image credits: Pixabay via Pexels

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