It’s time to get (your computer) tested if you’ve used the popular porn site Pornhub in the past year, because your computer may have been infected with a virus.
Cybsersecurity firm Proofpoint announced this month that it had uncovered a malicious program that had been lurking in Pornhub’s advertising network. The virus, called Kovter, had been routinely attacking visitors for more than a year, the researchers found.
Here’s how users would get the virus: After visiting the site, a new tab would sometimes pop up saying there was a “critical update” for whichever web browser the viewer was using. If the user clicked the update button, the virus would be downloaded to the computer, where it would then track users’ personal information and browsing habits.
Pornhub is the most popular porn website on the planet. It’s the 20th-most-popular website overall in the United States and the 37th-most-popular in the world, according to Alexa, which ranks web traffic.
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With a self-estimated 80 million daily visitors, untold millions may have been infected with this virus.
Both the advertising network and Pornhub were informed of the virus as soon as Proofpoint uncovered it, and it was quickly removed, Proofpoint said in a report.
In this case, the malware mostly just took over the user’s computer and used it to click on ads and generate money. But the researchers said it could have been much worse, and sites need to be on the lookout for other hackers looking to deliver a much worse payload through their websites.
“While the payload in this case is ad fraud malware, it could just as easily have been ransomware, an information stealer, or any other malware,” Proofpoint said in the report. “Regardless, threat actors are following the money and looking to more effective combinations of social engineering, targeting and pre-filtering to infect new victims at scale.”