PornHub and xHamster Cyber Security Penetrated

PornHub and xHamster Cyber Security Attack

Porn is a huge industry, “The Internet is for Porn” and all that, but just how large is porn? It’s an industry worth $3 Billion dollars in the United States, and almost $5 Billion dollars worldwide. In 2016 PornHub reported that nearly 3,110 Petabytes of porn was viewed by their users. A Petabyte is a million gigabytes, so in 2016 the internet watched 3,110,000,000 Gigabytes of porn! Millions of people watch porn every day, so if you know somebody they probably watch porn. PornHub is one of the largest pornography websites, but its users were exposed to the Kovter malware via their paid for ads. This attack comes from the KovCoreG group, which is an organization that specializes in attacks that use the Kovter malware program for their attacks. This attack would inform users that they had to install an update to their computer and that landing page actually changed itself based on the user. The install was Kovter in disguise, obviously, and was then installed to the target’s device. If an ad from any website redirects you to a page that tells you to install something, never install it. It doesn’t matter where you are, don’t trust ads that push installs. Don’t trust ads in general if you really want to be safe.

Kovter is part of the ransomware family, one that forces itself into your registry. It’s usually delivered by spamware, email or ads. Knowing how to avoid a phishing attack is an important skill and one you should have if you want to remain safe. Kovter can also include a cover form of malware, where it pretends to be something else like a keystroke logger or something else. This is to help the ransomware code avoid detection and removal.

PornHub isn’t the only website whose users were the targets of a malware attack though, its competitor xHmaster suffered an attack of a different nature. Rather than implanting malware through ads, xHmaster had its user database cracked wide open. Nearly 400,000 users had their account details stolen, which while massive is only ~3% of the total user base. While xHamster claims that its users have no reason to fear because their data is encrypted, online sources are reporting that the encryption MD5 algorithm they use is easy to break open. This attack is similar to attacks that have taken apart other popular adult websites like Brazzers and Ashley Madison. The data that is stolen is then used to extort the websites uses, the attackers threaten to air their dirty laundry to the world.

The problem with hacks like this is that those that are affected may stay silent rather than risk their tastes come to light. Attacks like this can have serious consequences in the real world, the thought of someone going through your browser history is usually enough to give someone a heart attack. Make sure your passwords are strong, they’re your last line of defense against an attack.

Max is a Data Privacy Coordinator at a major global law firm and a science fiction author residing in the Philadelphia area. He has been writing for since early 2017.