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THOSE viewing XXX-rated video content online should think about following these simple recommendations from Get Safe Online – a joint initiative between the UK Government, law enforcement agencies, public and private sector companies.

Watching pornographic material on your smartphone or tablet can carry huge risks, research by Wandera has revealed.

The study conducted by the security firm revealed some of the risks when watching pornography online.

According to data from the London-based company, almost a quarter of malware on mobile devices originates from xxx-rated video websites.

That means watching porn on your smartphone carries a much higher risk than watching it on a traditional PC set-up.

“Smartphone operating systems, especially Android, are not as secure as desktops, there are many vulnerabilities that can be easily exploited by hackers,” Wandera warns.

But it’s not only smartphone viewers who should be concerned.

According to research by New Zealand security firm CERT NZ, there has been a spike in the number of people secretly filmed by their own webcam while viewing adult material online.

Hackers seize control of the webcam remotely – recording potentially embarrassing footage of the victim watching adult content online.

The cybercriminals demand a ransom, threatening to release the footage online for everyone to see if their demands are not met.

CERT NZ shared the news on its official blog, writing “The email claims that when the person visited an unspecified adult website the scammer turned on the person’s webcam and recorded what was happening.

“The scammer threatens to email the video to all the person’s contacts unless they pay a ransom of around $500.

“We can’t confirm whether the video recordings actually exist, or if this is an opportunistic scam.”

Get Safe Online, which is a joint initiative between the UK Government, law enforcement agencies, public and private sector companies, has approached Express.co.uk with some tips to protect against this type of blackmail.

Tony Neate, CEO of Get Safe Online, told Express.co.uk: “This type of practice is known as a RAT (Remote Access Trojan) or ratting which, put simply, is a virus that allows someone to invisibly access your computer and take control of it, most commonly to access and control your webcam.

“Although RATs are becoming increasingly common there are ways that you can prevent it from happening to you.

“Because it’s all happening invisibly, this is one of the instances where it pays to indulge your paranoid side.

“The first and foremost way to protect yourself is to simply cover up the camera – giving the cyber criminals nothing to see.”

Tips to avoid RATs
Cover your webcam when not in use, whether it is a built-in or clip-on device
Ensure you have effective and updated antivirus/anti-spyware software and a firewall running whenever your computer or mobile device is switched on
Do not be tempted to download programs or apps that are not from a trusted source, as they could contain RATs and other malware
Download updates to your programs and apps when prompted to do so … they often include security fixes
Take great care about which links you click on in emails – they may be phishing. When you click on such a link, it can automatically download the software that enables hackers to rat your computer
Take great care about opening attachments in emails, even if they seem to be from people you know
Avoid suspicious websites and torrent downloading. Many such downloads are not only against the law but also a major gateway for this type of cyber-attack
If you find yourself threatened by this type of blackmail – it’s very likely there is malware installed on your machine.

CERT NZ recommends taking your computer to an IT specialist to check for malware.

Although it can be tempting, those threatened by these types of scam should not pay the ransom.

“Do not pay the ransom,” CERT NZ cautions.

“It can be tempting to pay money to make the problem go away. In similar cases overseas, the scammers continue to ask for more money once the first ransom is paid.

“Do not contact the scammers. Block them on whichever method of communication they’re using to speak to you.”

And it’s not simply those watching adult content online that have been targeted.

Netsafe has reported incidents of another version of this scam, which sees hackers set up an online profile with an attractive profile picture.

This could be on social media sites, or on an online dating app.

Cybercriminals then reach out and connect with a person, quickly encouraging them to perform certain acts with the webcam on.

They record this activity, and use it to blackmail the person. There have been reports of these videos being released on social media.

CERT NZ advises users to only accept friend invitations from people that you know in real life.

“This means someone you know personally, or someone you know is a real person, like a celebrity or public figure,” the firm adds.

• If you need to talk to someone, Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year, providing a safe place to talk for anyone who is struggling to cope.

• Please call 116 123 (this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill) or visit samaritans.org to find details of your nearest branch.

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