Survey: Legitimate websites more likely to carry a virus than adult sites

One of the most oft-repeated warnings about computer viruses is that if you visit an adult-themed website you're more likely to get a one than shopping online or reading the news. Computer security company Avast! wanted to test this Internet assumption. So the company analyzed infected web sites for a 30-day period and found that legitimate websites were many times more likely to contain an infected file than those with adult content.

During the a 30-day period from late April through June, Avast monitored infected web sites, of which 24,368 traditional .com web sites that did not contain adult content. The survey of infected sites showed that only 339 contained "adult specific keywords."

"We are not recommending people to start searching for erotic content, not at all," says Avast! CTO Ondrej Vlcek in a press release, "but the statistics are clear -- for every infected adult domain we identify there are 99 others with perfectly legitimate content that are also infected."

Actually, Vlcek's math is a bit off: The survey found about 72 times as many "legitimate" sites as adult sites among the infected, a less memorable but still eye-popping number.

According to Avast!, the company finds more infected domains every day with the word "London" than with the word "sex"." Additionally as of June 28, the company reported that the website of Vodafone, a popular UK cell phone provider, contained an infection that was targeting a security hole in the Microsoft Windows operating system.

There was never any hard data to back up this the assumption that viewing adult content leads to more viruses. The assumption grew out of anecdotal stories of computer techs who found infected machines with lots of adult activity in the browser history. Over time telling users to avoid adult websites to stay virus-free became the first thing you told a new Internet user.

If you are online, you should have antivirus protection -- even if you swear you don't visit any adult web sites.

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