2012’s Most Dangerous Cyber Celebrities

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Musicians are Not Safe

Young female artists are definitely a draw to malware and risky websites. Selena Gomez (No. 4), Shakira (No. 7), and Taylor Swift (No. 15) all rank in the top 20.

Headlines Don’t Equate to Risk

Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, Kristen Stewart, and Robert Pattinson were all absent from this year’s top 50 list despite the publicity surrounding the Cruise-Holmes divorce and the Stewart-Pattinson cheating scandal.

“Hot movies and TV shows, awards and industry accolades seem to be more of a factor than headline-grabbing activity,” said Greve. “Still, searching for any celebrity can bring up risky sites and the public should use caution by not clicking on any page that looks suspicious.”

From One Year to Another

Heidi Klum, Piers Morgan, Mila Kunis, Katherine Heigl, Anna Paquin, Adriana Lima Scarlett Johansson, Brad Pitt, Emma Stone, and Rachel McAdams have all dropped out of this year’s top 10 list (Pitt, Stone, and McAdams tied for No. 10 last year).

Emma Watson has replaced Heidi Klum as McAfee's 2012 most dangerous celebrity to search for online. For the sixth year in a row, McAfee researched popular culture’s most famous people to reveal the riskiest Hollywood actors, athletes, musicians, politicians, designers, and comedians on the Web. The McAfee Most Dangerous Celebrities™ study found that women are more dangerous than men, with Jessica Biel taking the number two spot and Eva Mendes coming in third. Latina women have proven that they are on fire and make up five of the top ten spots. After Mendes, Selena Gomez, Shakira and Salma Hayek take the fourth, seventh and ninth spot and Sofia Vergara rounds out the top 10 list. Funnyman Jimmy Kimmel is the only male to make the top 20 list this year.

Cyber criminals follow the latest trends, often using the names of popular celebrities to lure people to sites that are actually laden with malicious software that are designed to steal passwords and personal information. Anyone looking for the latest videos or files to download could end up with a malware-ridden computer along with the trendy content. This year, searching for a celebrity name with “free downloads” and “nude pictures” as part of the search term resulted in the highest result of risky sites.

“In today’s celebrity culture, consumers expect to be able to go online to catch up with the latest photos, videos, tweets, and stories about their favorite celebrities. Due to the richness of the data and the high interaction, often times consumers forget the risks that they are taking by clicking on the links,” said Paula Greve, director of web security research at McAfee. “As the sophistication and expectations of consumers with respect to their online experience has increased, so has the level and ability to deliver malware either by malvertising, exploiting the user’s browser without their awareness, or masking malicious URLs behind shortened URLs.”


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