McAfee Names Most Dangerous Celebrities in Cyberspace

Sep 17, 2008

CIO Update Staff

Brad Pitt has overtaken Paris Hilton as the most dangerous celebrity to search for in cyberspace according to Internet security company McAfee. For the second year running, McAfee entered the glamorous world of Hollywood to reveal the riskiest celebrities in cyberspace.


Checking in on your famous friends is not only a guilty pleasure, but seriously dangerous for your PC. Fans searching for "Brad Pitt," "Brad Pitt downloads," and Brad Pitt wallpaper, screen savers and pictures have an 18% chance of having their PCs infected with online threats, such as spyware, spam, phishing, adware, viruses and other malware.


Cybercriminals are using A-listers' names and images, like Beyonce and Justin Timberlake, to lure Internet users who surf the Web for the latest gossip, screen savers and ringtones to "fake" Web sites that look legitimate.


Actors Brad Pitt and Justin Timberlake are the most dangerous men to seek on the Internet, while Beyonce and Heidi Montag top the list for women. Paris Hilton, who topped 2007's most dangerous celebrities, is noticeably absent from this year's list. Also absent is Britney Spears who was ranked #4 in 2007.


In their second annual report, McAfee compiled the list, using the McAfee SiteAdvisor technology, of Hollywood celebrity names that produce the largest number of risky sites when searched for on the Web. The list includes: Brad Pitt, Beyounce, Justin Timberlake, Heidi Montag, Mariah Carey, Jessica Alba, Lindsey Lohan, Cameron Diaz, George Clooney, Rihanna, Angelina Jolie, Fergie, David Beckham, Katie Holmes, and Katherine Heigl.


"Cybercriminals employ numerous methods, yet one of the simplest but most effective ways is to trick consumers into infecting themselves by capitalizing on Americans' interest in celebrity gossip," said Jeff Green, Senior Vice President of McAfee's Product Development & Avert Labs, in a statement.


"Tapping into current events, pop culture or commonly browsed sites is an easy way to achieve this. And because of Americans' obsession with following celebrities' lifestyles, they are an obvious target. We have to take precautions in casually navigating the Web since many subtle sites may be rife with malware for consumers' computers."




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