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Porn sites not as risky as search engines or social media: Cisco studies

Highest concentration of online threats are hiding in plain site(s)

By Jim Duffy on Thu, 01/31/13 - 3:47pm.

The highest concentration of online security threats are found in major search engines, retail sites and social media outlets vs. pornography, pharmaceutical or gambling sites. That's the finding of two of Cisco's most recent security studies, which were released this week.

In its 2013 Annual Security Report, Cisco found that online shopping sites are 21 times as likely, and search engines 27 times as likely, to deliver malicious content than a counterfeit software site.  And online advertisements are 182 times as likely to deliver malicious content than pornography.

A second study, the Cisco Connected World Technology Report, found that young workers mixing personal use of their devices with business use raise security risks in businesses because they are so willing to sacrifice personal information for socialization online. More of these young workers - 30 years old or younger -- feel more comfortable sharing personal information with retail sites than with their own employers' IT departments, which are paid to protect employee identities and devices, the Cisco study found.

[HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE: Cyberattacks growing, looking more legit]

The first part of this Cisco Connected World Technology Report, released in December, found that these "Gen Y" workers and students often bed their mobile devices in order to constantly check social media, email and text updates. As those lifestyles blend with the work environment, they're introducing security challenges that companies have not yet faced on this scale, the Cisco study found.

Seventy-five percent of Gen Yers do not trust websites to protect personal information such as credit card and personal contact details; yet it does not dissuade them from sharing it online anyway. Fifty-seven percent are comfortable with their personal information being used by retailers, social media sites, and other online properties if they will benefit from the experience, the Cisco studies found.

Mapping this behavior to the workplace, on workplace devices or personal devices used in the workplace,