Article about Internet dangers/scams - what is this part?

  1. Porn

While you mindlessly surf the Internet, you may accidentally click on sketchy ads or spam. Or perhaps you get an email with a tantalizing picture or link, which ultimately sends you to a site rife with illegal pornographic images. Such despicable lures are just one part of the larger epidemic of ransomware.

How to Avoid It: Pay attention! Absentminded clicking can land you in a world of pain. Also, deal with businesses that are security minded. These businesses have their websites tested at least annually for vulnerabilities, then fix the security gaps before you get trapped in them. Intentionally clicking on illegal sites, however, will (and should) entitle you to a one-way ticket to a federal sleep-away camp for a not inconsequential period of time.
What does that mean?

  1. What are “illegal pornographic images” - underage porn? If so, what is the scammer’s supposed motivation to send you to that?

  2. “Intentionally clicking on illegal sites, however, will (and should) entitle you to a one-way ticket to a federal sleep-away camp for a not inconsequential period of time.” - again, does he mean child porn? Or am I missing something.

Ransomware is a term used for malware which takes over your computer and puts up a screen saying something like “The FBI has detected that you were accessing websites containing child pronography, bestiality (etc). Your computer has been locked as evidence. You may pay an immediate fine of $200 to settle this…” with information how to pay the “fine”. Usually something like having you buy a third party payment option (MoneyPak) and give them the info.


My guess, from your article, is that he’s saying you’d go to a porn site that would have some sketchy images and then get hit with the ransomeware demand. You think “Yikes, there WERE those images…” and feel inclined to pay the false fine. In reality, the FBI doesn’t remotely takeover your computer and extort $200 to get it back without a lawsuit. They just arrest you.

Edit: I should add that you should never pay the fake fine. The problem should be handled like any other virus removal issue since that’s essentially what you have.

He does speak about that in the other portion of the article. But in this particular portion he explicitly is talking about “illegal pornographic images” and “intentionally clicking on illegal sites” which apparently will (and should, as he claims) land you in jail. What in the world is he talking about?

Yup. Kiddie porn. I’m assuming with the mention of “ransomware” is that the next step is either a fake “FBI is monitoring you, pay your fine or get fucked” pop up that takes over your computer and wants you to pay to unlock it, or something similar from a supposed “anti-virus” company that says “OMG, you got hit with child porn, pay us and we’ll help you.” I’m assuming this variant is used because people are terrified of having child porn on their comps and won’t want to seek outside help to deal with it, unlike other ransomware.

Edit: Damn, typed too slowly.

He’s talking about child sexual images. He’s saying “Sites might use this to make you subject to their ransomware through inadvertent exposure. But if you’re intentionally looking for this stuff, you risk (and deserve) to go to jail anyway.” As in authorities monitoring such sites and being more apt to jump on a regular or lingering visitor than someone who (from the logs) apparently said “Ah, crap!” and immediately leaves.

It’s just a throwaway line saying “People who look for kiddie porn are bad people who deserve what they get”.

I’ve seen ransomware (in fact, cleaned my wife’s computer of it) - but I have yet to see any kind of computer scam that sends you to underage porn pics. In fact, I would think that running such a site would be extremely dangerous for the scammer - much more dangerous than doing almost any other type of scam.

Out of the US, sure. Out of some impoverished former Soviet bloc Eastern European nation… not quite as dangerous. the pics are just there to add legitimacy to the ransomware. You just saw the images, are scared of the feds and get the lock screen. You’re more apt to pay it out of fear than you would if you were accused of browsing kiddie porn while on or CNN.

I also want to point out that there are a lot of porn sites that seem to mostly be filled with pirated videos and images. That would also be illegal porn. I don’t think a ransomware demand would work as well on these sites, though, as most people there don’t know about the infringement.

I have seen ransomware demands on actual pirating sites, though. And I’ve seen some that are just on plain porn sites that just guess that you may have pirated software, movies, or music some time in the past. Thus these warnings needn’t be about child porn.

Also, I wouldn’t put it past some site to put up non-pornographic images of nude children and then pull this stunt. Most people don’t know the difference. I know it totally shocked me when I saw first saw naked children in some older album covers.

In the early days of the internet, people who were charged with having illegal porn on their computer often used the excuse it was placed there without their knowledge by various sly programs.

IIRC a VP of used this excuse - chat partners on the internet could download pictures to his PC without his knowledge. The motivation could be many and varied - extortion, just being silly, adverstising for the 1 in 1,000 who might click on it, or back when - using your spare capacity as an FTP file server for others, safely offloading their stuff to you. It is also possible for web sites to downlaod pictures without your knowledge; a picture could be hidden as 1x1 pixel on the website, but reference a full-sized phot which would be downloaded but not really visible.

Really, other than site advertiing or to plaster porn on your screen with the FBI fake warning, there’s no real motivation to push kiddie porn to the average browser today; still less motivation to do it in stealth mode.

Regardless, your computer is downloading all sorts of weird stuff - not just where you browse, but the advertising linked by those websites, etc. You have no idea what is on your PC on a given day, but it could get you arrested if you are not careful. Modern AV software generally prevents the most blatant infections, but there are always more holes found for hackers to exploit each month.

The use of the word “illegal” here is essentially bullshit. It is a hangover from fifteen years or so ago when people who had never, or scarcely, even been on the internet were panicking about all the terrible dangers this strange new medium might pose to our young people.

To be fair, back in those days people selling online porn were a good deal more aggressive than most are now about trying to get people to quite inadvertently click links to their sites, and about preventing you from closing the sites once you got there. Most, though not all, pornographers seem to have learned since then that such tactics are ineffective and counter productive.

Even back in those old “wild west” days of internet porn, I think it was probably very rare for the clicking of an apparently innocent link to take you to actually illegal porn (illegal in the USA, anyway). Certainly it never happened to me, though I saw plenty of legal (and sometimes nasty) stuff that I wasn’t really looking for. Today it is almost certainly never going to happen. No doubt there is illegal porn on the net, but it is going to be well hidden from the casual surfer (and, indeed, from Google). The last thing they want is law enforcement, or someone who might report them to law enforcement, stumbling over it. If you could just Google for kiddie porn (which you could if there were open links to it scattered around), the police would do so, and then take down the sites and arrest the owners.

Of course even perfectly legal porn could get you in trouble with your wife or your boss, if they find it on your computer, so the advice is not entirely pointless. There probably still are some disguised, stealth links to porn out there,and still some porn spam (though I think both are a lot rarer than they once were), but mostly, there days, where people visit porn sites it is because they fully intend to do so.

Ransomware is another thing again, as Jophiel explains. I have experienced it once myself, when intentionally visiting a porn site. The porn in question was a bit gross, and rather more so than I had actually been expecting or hoping, but I am pretty sure it was not actually illegal (and it certainly did not involve children). Ransomeware does not rely on using actually illegal porn, it just relies on you having, at some time, having looked at stuff that makes you feel a bit guilty, which, for a lot of people, might include some really quite vanilla stuff. The ransomware message I got did not even specify that it was about porn (though I got it from a porn site), it said that I had either been viewing illegal porn or downloading or sharing copyright material. They are just using a scattershot approach in order to scare you.