Online ads more likely to spread malware than expected sources, study says

Published: Thursday, Feb. 7 2013 9:06 a.m. MST

Online advertisements and websites regularly visited by mass audiences are more likely to contain malware and pose online security threats than pornography, pharmaceutical and gambling sites, according to Cisco's recently released 2013 Annual Security Report.

The study was conducted to delve into the details of possible security risks and challenges for businesses and individuals as the increased mobility of technology blends work and personal lifestyles for people everywhere.

Specifically, findings show that advertisements are 182 times as likely to deliver malicious content than porn sites, which are indeed known to spread malware, according to PC Magazine. Additionally, "online shopping sites are 21 times more likely and search engines 27 times more likely to deliver a malicious package to your PC as a counterfeit software site," a separate PC Magazine story reported.

The most alarming part of the story is that legitimate destinations for many people on the Internet are actually those with the highest concentration of online security threats.

Another part of the study looked into the attitudes of Generation Y — the next generation of workers — as they enter work environments in increasingly greater numbers.

Part of Cisco's Connected World Technology Report for 2013 found where and for how much of their time Generation Y is checking social media, email and texts. Three of four who were surveyed said they are checking technology updates while in bed, nearly half said they do so while at the dinner table, one in three while in the bathroom and one in five while they are driving.

"What the security studies show is the next-generation work force's lifestyles are also introducing security challenges that companies have never had to address on this scale," according to the Cisco news release.

Ninety-one percent of Generation Y employees also said they believe that the age of privacy is over, and one-third reported that they are not worried about any data collected and stored about them, according to Cisco.

Mandy Morgan is an intern for the Deseret News, reporting on issues surrounding both family and values in the media. She is a true-blue Aggie, studying journalism and political science at Utah State University, and hails from Highland, Utah.

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