It’s no secret that the anonymous and far-reaching nature of the internet has led to widespread access to pornography or other adult content. And, though pornography is, in some circles, considered sexist, degrading to women, and immoral, many of the adult sites one finds on the internet are legal and relatively stereotypical. As long as there are no children involved, either in the featured online material or in the viewing audience, many people see nothing wrong with the occasional trip through the online word of adult websites. However, what many don’t realize is that visiting adult websites is one of the easiest ways to infect a computer–especially when using an unsecured browser.
Though it may not be an issue the average user would feel comfortable broaching in a public forum, there are browsers that are better suited to keeping a user’s computer free from infection, even when viewing high-risk adult sites. And, ironically, a user doesn’t have to be searching for an adult site to end up being infected by one – hijacking programs routinely redirect browsers to adult sites, where they are force-fed spyware, adware, and other malware. As a result, an unexpected (or intentional) visit to an adult site can result in everything from annoying popup ads to rootkit installation, to keylogger installation, to identity theft. Not to mention the unintentional exposure to pornography.
As with everything on the internet, there are browsers that claim to be better suited to protect against the threats of adult websites, including Heatseek, an adult-site specific browser that claims to be both secure and easy to use, and.the Mozilla Firefox browser. Mozilla Firefox – not to be confused with Browsezilla, a browser that claims to help visitors to adult websites hide their online activity, but which in June was discovered to be installing adware on the user’s computer – is considered to be a safe and convenient browser for all types of surfing (adult-oriented or not). The advantages of the Firefox browser include:
The tabbed browsing feature, which supplies the user with a faster alternative to multi-window browsing, lets pages in different tabs remain accessible while the user views other pages, and lets the user open new links instantly instead of waiting for a separate window to load.
Firefox give the user control over popups and windows.
Firefox is known for being secure and not allowing automatic spyware downloads.
Users who value their online privacy are easily able to clear their cookies, cache, download history, and browsing history.
A feature designed specifically for adult web browsing, dubbed “Pornzilla,” allows users to take advantage of bookmarking and extensions to improve their surfing experience.
Various downloading features give the user control over how and where to save files.
Firefox has an image-rendering library that can naturally also be used for images that don’t fall into the adult category.
But one can never be too careful when visiting adult websites, either by accident or on purpose. In addition to using a secure browser, it is important to take several other steps to prevent infection:
1. Install a firewall and an anti spyware software program on the computer to protect against drive-by downloading. 2. Whether one chooses to visit an adult site or finds oneself redirected to an adult site by a link, one should not click “yes” or “OK” to anything that might appear on the screen. 3. Do not click on popup ads or banner ads for adult sites. Clicking on the link could take a user to the site, which might be infected. 4. Do not open emails that appear to be from an adult website. 5. Do not open attachments in adult-themed emails. 6. Do not open links, emails, or email attachments from unknown sources. 7. If a person known to the user sends a link or attachment, the user should check with them to make sure it is legitimate before clicking it.
Of course, the best and easiest way to avoid the dangers of adult websites is to not visit them. But if a user wants to browse adult websites without worrying about compromising personal data, the smartest way to do so is to have a separate, designated computer to be used exclusively for risky browsing. For this to be effective, the user must remove the computer from the home network and remove any personal documents from the hard drive. Most importantly, all internet activity on that computer should be limited to browsing – no email, no shopping, no checking of accounts – nothing that requires entering a username or password. If, in the event a piece of malware is downloaded, the user can simply reformat the hard drive without having to worry that personal information has been compromised.