Mystery hackers are dispensing child abuse images and malicious software through many legitimate porn sites that have been compromised.
The visuals are described as the “worst of the worst,” involving children, at most two years old, being raped and sexually tortured.
The attackers are breaking into legal adult websites, and inserting links to another hacked site, which then downloads a folder containing child sex abuse images. When the folder is opened it also downloads malware.
The motivation for the intrusions is murky. Alan Woodward, a computing professor at the University of Surrey, suggested that vigilantes could be behind the attacks, or even law enforcement.
The file names make it fairly clear what is inside and, and the files must be clicked on to view the images.
“That would suggest maybe they are going after people who use porn sites and might be tempted into kiddie stuff,” Woodward said. “CEOP [Child Exploitation & Online Protection Centre] were saying last time this came up that legal sites were being used with links that were ‘barely disguised’ links to illegal content. Maybe they’re after people doing that.”
Another possibility: Sean Sullivan, security expert at F-Secure, said he suspected ransomware efforts, “using the illicit images to shakedown targets.”
During just the past six weeks, 227 reports of the occurrence have been filed, according to the Internet Watch Foundation.