Malware has become so common on the web that users are more likely to find malicious content while visiting popular sites than when they are on porn and gaming sites, according to research released Tuesday by security firm Websense

"The path to malware often starts on recreational sites, and most of the top sites are perilously close to danger," said Websense officials in a release on the findings. "We found that users of the top 1,000 sites are rarely more than two clicks away from malicious content."

The study finds these sites include:

* More than 70 percent of top news and media sites

* More than 70 percent of the top message boards and forums

* More than 50 percent of social networking sites

The report also finds poisoning search results with malicious links for top trends and buzz words increased from 14 percent in early 2010 to 22 percent just a few months later. Web surfers have a higher chance of running into malicious content from a "breaking trends" search such as a "World Cup 2010," than from sexual content searches, which are often considered to pose the highest risk for malware. Websense said 25 percent of the results from a search for "World Cup 2012" were malicious. 

The study also examined the prevalence of websites containing malicious links, as opposed to malicious content.

"These sites don't deliver malware themselves but while you are on such a 'trusted' site, you are only one dangerous click away from an infected site," said Websense. "Many of the Internet's top sites will lead you to malicious content through the extensive network of partner sites that they are linked to."

The firm used link analysis to seek out risky websites that have a high probability of linking to bad content and found the more objectionable a topic is, the tighter the ecosystem of links is, and the easier it is to use link analysis to find objectionable or malicious content. Almost one quarter, 22 percent, of links in sex and adult sites lead to malicious sites. The research also found 62 percent of the sites that link to games also link to something objectionable or a security risk, 23 percent of blogs link to something objectionable or a security risk, and 21 percent of freeware sites link to something objectionable or a security risk

Social networking sites also pose a risk for malicious links. About 40 percent of every status update on Facebook has a link, and 10 percent of those links are either malicious or spam, according to Websense.