Snowday Porn-Watching Leads to Mass Computer Infections in the Northeast

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As a kid, snow days home from school meant cartoons, sledding, and snowball fights. These days, the rare snow day that gifts you 24 hours of freedom from the office is more grown-up activities: beer-drinking, napping, and, apparently, watching a whole lot of porn.

As Winter Storm Stella dropped more than three feet of snow in some areas of the Northeast, the amount of malware infections on computers went up thanks to the NSFW content everyone was free to watch. According to data released today by Enigma Software Group (ESG), infections spiked anywhere from 15 percent to more than 90 percent in areas hit hard by the Nor’easter.

“Any time we see a large number of people change their online habits, we see a change in infections,” said ESG spokesperson Ryan Gerding. “On Tuesday you had millions of people who stayed home from school and work. When they were snowed in, they went online, and when they went online, they got infections.”

Enigma gathered data from infections on their customer’s computers in the Northeast — specifically in New York City, Boston, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Connecticut — and compared numbers of spyware and malware attacks before the storm to after Stella hit.

In New York City, malware infections jumped nearly 84 percent, and New Jersey saw an increase of more than 88 percent. Pennsylvania came in with a 79 percent increase, and Connecticut took the smutty cake with a 91.47 percent hike in computer infections.

Often, malware comes from visiting sites (specifically porn and illegal movie downloads) and attacks your computer by gaining access to your software through bugs you download inadvertently. You know those adult web sites that ask you to download a “special viewer” to allow you to see the content? Yeah, that “special viewer” isn’t the only thing you’re getting when you click on the link — you’re giving hackers complete access to your computer and all of its files so they can lay waste to your PC.

We understand that you can’t surf the web scared, so we got some tips from the Enigma team to keep your computer safe when you’re in… questionable Internet territory.

1. Don’t trust spam emails or emails from people you don’t know that ask you to click a link. Many times malware comes from links sent in emails and social media messages meant to lure you in to the porn site.

2. Make sure to regularly back up all of your important files in two places: a physical location like an external hard drive, and in an online location in the cloud. So if you do get a virus, you’re protected.

3. Have a trusted anti-malware program installed on your computer, such as SpyHunter from Enigma.

4. Ensure that your security software and your operating system are set to automatically download and install important updates — this keeps your antivirus protection up and running.

5. Always “Think about that link.” Before clicking on a link you see in an email or social media message, be wary, be alert, and think about whether it could be a trick to get you to accidentally download an infection.