November 15, 2012 6:05 PM   Subscribe

Random porn filter: does my iPad have a virus or what?

A few minutes ago I was reading the Boston.com website on my iPad using Safari. Clicked on a link to an article and suddenly there were about five or six new tabs opening up in quick succession, with some super-explicit porn ads. The last tab to open was some page saying I'd won something, with a pop-up window waiting for me to hit "OK". Shutting down the Safari app from the home screen and then reopening it didn't get those tabs to go away--had to restart the machine to be able to close those windows down.

Husband thinks this means iPad must have a virus. Quick check of the Apple support site says Apple products don't get viruses. For whatever that's worth...

Checked the history, and there were no XXX pages listed there, so it's not like an existing link was reopened. Sometimes the adults in the family look at XXX material on the iPad using Safari, but only in private browsing, and are quite conscientious to cover tracks so that the kids don't stumble across anything.

My question: WTF? Any ideas why the porn came up outta nowhere? How can I make sure this doesn't happen again, like when my kids are using it?
posted by Sublimity to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Sometimes Web sites get hacked.
posted by kindall at 6:06 PM on November 15, 2012

I've seen stuff like this happen on legit sites due to malicious ads being served up.
posted by chiababe at 6:14 PM on November 15, 2012

The most likely explanation is javascript on a compromised webpage (not your problem) or your iPad is querying DNS servers that are compromised/intentionally misdirecting to porn sites. If your iPad is receiving a DHCP address and DNS servers to use from your home router, what DNS servers is your router handing out to DHCP clients?
posted by thewalrus at 6:15 PM on November 15, 2012

An iPad is a tablet with a tablet OS. It is not a desktop computer with a regular OS, therefore the way that a virus, Trojan, or other malware entity interfaces with a computer and its OS is not applicable to the iPad.

This sounds like that site was hacked or that the site was displaying an ad that was spawning malicious JavaScript.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 6:44 PM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Any sort of machine can be infected with malware; whether it's a tablet, phone or desktop has no bearing. But this just sounds like vanilla javascript shenanigans.
posted by ead at 7:12 PM on November 15, 2012

I believe there is nothing to worry about, but if you continue to worry, you can restore your iPad to the factory settings pretty easily. Apple's instructions here.
posted by Mad_Carew at 9:37 PM on November 15, 2012

Sketchy ad. It happens, though it's generally infrequent because it tends to be due to the cheap-o network ads that sites get as a big package to run automatically when their "real" (good) advertising runs out/meets goals.

If you want to be nice and remember roughly when it happened(what article or even just section), send an e-mail to the site's contact address so they can have their ad manager look into it.
posted by Su at 9:41 PM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

There are no viruses on iOS like this. It's not impossible, but it's harder to write a virus for an iPad than a PC and no one seems to have done it yet. As folks said above, the likely explanation is boston.com itself was hacked and was serving dodgy porn javascript. This happens more often than you'd think; often the hackers use it to implant viruses on the victim PCs. (Again, iPad browsers are safe from this so far).

Quitting Mobile Safari and restarting it always reloads the tabs, there's nothing special about those porn pages. Safari will even reload the tab set after you force quit it.
posted by Nelson at 8:40 AM on November 16, 2012

Thanks, all!
posted by Sublimity at 5:06 PM on November 17, 2012

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