According to research by NordVPN, adult content, streaming, and video hosting sites have the most security and privacy threats, such as malware, intrusive ads, and trackers. Research shows that NordVPN’s Threat Protection feature, whose sole purpose is to protect people from such threats, blocked 344M trackers, 341M intrusive ads, and 506K malware infections in the month of December 2022 alone.
“The online world is challenging people in every single move they make. Want to read an article? Dozens of ads and pop-ups are ready to immediately cover your screen. Another privacy threat – malware – is lurking for you on websites and in files you are about to download. Websites you browse are also full of third-party trackers that analyze your browsing history to find out what you do online. It depends on you to stop it,” says Adrianus Warmenhoven, a cybersecurity advisor at NordVPN.
Adult content sites contain the biggest amount of malware
Malware is malicious software that seeks to damage or compromise a device or data. Malware’s scope varies from relatively harmless to extremely dangerous. Malicious software can track people’s data, steal sensitive information, or even delete it without your consent.
NordVPN research shows that adult content sites (21%), as well as cloud storage providers (14%) and entertainment sites (11%), contain the biggest amount of malware. In December, Threat Protection blocked 60.4K, 40.1K, and 30.9K domains of these categories respectively.
Among the most common types of malware are viruses, spyware, worms, trojans, adware, scareware, ransomware, and fireless malware.
Streaming media sites have the most intrusive ads
Intrusive advertising refers to pushing invasive and irrelevant ads in front of consumers. They irritate users by popping up unexpectedly, blocking the host page, opening new pages and windows, or playing video and audio at inopportune times.
As for intrusive ads, the majority of them were found on streaming (23%), adult content (16%), and online shopping (9%) sites. Threat Protection detected and blocked millions of them: 552M, 389M, and 226M respectively.
“Today, ad blockers are essential for both security because they block ads that can infect people’s devices and privacy because annoying ads rely on collecting data from web activity and violating people’s privacy. Also, if a website is loading slower than usual, you can blame intrusive ads. Free apps filled with unwanted ads could also drain your device’s battery faster,” explains Adrianus Warmenhoven.
Video hosting sites have the biggest number of trackers
While many trackers are a tool for advertising and improving user experience, they may also become handy for online spies. Internet service providers (ISPs), marketing agencies, social media companies, and governments can access your online actions and breach your privacy.
NordVPN’s Threat Protection showed that video hosting sites (22%), cloud storage providers (16.31%), web email (16.25%), and information technology sites (12%) have the most trackers. Video hosting sites alone had 239 billion trackers blocked by Threat Protection in December 2022.
It’s worth adding that earlier NordVPN research showed that the average number of trackers per website is highest in Hong Kong (45.4 trackers), Singapore (33.5), the United States (23.1), and Australia (18.6).
“You can become less trackable online by declining third party cookies, because the website can sell your browsing data to third parties; using a VPN, which will hide your real IP address and location; installing a tracker blocker, which will stop your browsers from collecting information about you; and using privacy browsers, which can obfuscate your browser fingerprint, or ditching Google, which tracks a lot of data about you,” says Adrianus Warmenhoven.
Threat Protection scans your files before you download them, identifies threats, and blocks them before they can harm your device. The feature is free with every NordVPN subscription – and it allows you to go online without leaving a trace, protecting your privacy and improving your digital security.
Methodology: The statistics mentioned above were acquired by analyzing aggregated data gathered by the NordVPN’s Threat Protection service in January 2023. No identifiable user information was collected, reviewed, or otherwise involved when the research and compiled results were conducted.