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Looking at porn? Here’s why you should never use your primary computer

Having a ‘porn top’ exclusively for your own (or your partner’s) *very personal* use protects you from the Internet’s nastiest viruses.

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by Jan Scherders / Mood Board / Rex Features ( 1299031a ) MODEL RELEASED Woman lies with laptop on bed At Home

Photo, Jan Scherders/Mood Board/Rex Features.

A few years ago, my husband and I decided we needed a third computer. Nothing fancy, just a cheap laptop for a couple hundred bucks from Costco.

He had his work computer and I had mine, but we needed another laptop for the other stuff — playing video games, downloading TV shows and movies and other *ahem* personal activities we might want to engage in online. We jokingly refer to it as the “porn top.”

Canada is fourth in the world in per capita page views on PornHub (which is like the YouTube of porn), and the number of women who partake is on the rise. But just because more of us are watching porn online, doesn’t mean we’ve gotten any smarter about managing the risks to our computers — from contracting malware to alarming pop-up ads to compromising online privacy.


Related: The Internet just got a little more woman-friendly


Malware is the main reason my husband and I opted for a porn top, since it’s the most pervasive tech danger that comes with online pornography. It’s a broad term for malicious software including viruses, ransomware, trojans, spyware and other nasty stuff.

Some malware, like spyware and Trojans, go unnoticed, but may work in the background collecting data on you and slowing down your computer. Viruses can stop your operating system or software from working, or destroy files on your computer. The scariest type of malware is ransomware, which encrypts the files on your computer (so they’re basically paralyzed and you can’t access them). The files are held hostage until you pay a “ransom” to hackers — usually hundreds of dollars in Bitcoin — to decrypt them.

And just to clear up some myths, Macs, smartphones and tablets are all susceptible to the same risks as a PC.


Related: 4 major cell phone health risks and how to avoid them


The advantage of a dedicated device for your extracurricular activities is that you won’t run the risk of harming the files on your computer. But whether or not you decide to spend a few hundred bucks on a porn top, here are precautions you should take on any device:

Use different web browsers:

Most web browsers use cookies, which are little pieces of code running in the background recording what you’re doing online — which websites you went to, how long you spent on them, what you click on, your location, etc.

Some of that data is condensed into an advertising profile that describes what services like Google believe you’re interested in, and that information is used by marketers to target you with ads online. Alternative web browsers like Epic Privacy Browser are secure and don’t track your online activity. If you are going to use Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer or Safari, be sure to set it to Incognito or Privacy mode.

Use an alternative search engine:

Don’t use Google to search for risqué content, especially if you’re logged in to your Google account. Google tracks your search history, similar to how a browser tracks your activity. Try Boodigo, an adult-oriented search engine that’s anonymous and only returns search results that don’t have malware.

Consider paid porn sites:

Remember that nothing is free. Paid porn sites are much less likely to have pop-up ads and malvertising (ads that are hacked to include malware).

If you do want to visit free porn sites, consider that they’re making money through advertising, and ads are high-risk targets for malware. Use an ad-blocker to stop the ads from being displayed in the first place so you don’t click on one by accident.

There are safe and not-so-safe ways to visit the darker corners of the Internet. Protect yourself properly, practise safe (digital) sex and have fun.

Avery Swartz is a tech entrepreneur from Toronto.

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