McAfee has found out that Googling for hot celebrities like Emma Watson, Shakira, Salma Hayek and Kate Upton can be risky and also that searching for women is generally more dangerous than men
In a recent study, McAfee, a world leading security technology company dedicated to protection of internet users, has found that Googling for celebrities such as the Harry Potter movie actress Emma Watson, Justin Bieber’s girlfriend Selena Gomez and supermodels such as Kate Upton can be extremely risky. These celebrity searches are apparently a happy hunting ground for those seeking to infect computers with malicious viruses such as spyware, adware, spam, phishing, viruses and other malware, which can pose an online threat to the user. Interestingly, the 10 most dangerous searches listed by McAfee are all women and is a sort of ranking for the hottest women on the planet.
McAfee’s study found that searching for Emma Watson yields more than a 12.6% chance of landing on a website that is dangerous and malicious. Other celebrities featured in the list were noted singer Shakira, actresses Salma Hayek and Cameron Diaz. According to McAfee press release, it said, “Emma Watson has replaced Heidi Klum as McAfee’s 2012 most dangerous celebrity to search for online. 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.”
Apart from celebrities, it found out that searching for pictures and downloads of Latinas, musicians and supermodels were likely to lead to malicious websites. Surprisingly, celebrities such as Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, Kristen Stewart, and Robert Pattinson did not featured in their list despite their respective high profile stories carried recently. “Hot movies and TV shows, awards and industry accolades seem to be more of a factor than headline-grabbing activity,” said Paula Greve, director of web security research at McAfee. “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.”
While the press release doesn’t mention any Indians, not even the top-most searched Indians (Google Zeitgeist) were Katrina Kaif, Salman Khan, Anna Hazare, Poonam Pandey and Priyanka Chopra.
In this day and age of rapid content consumption on the internet and social media such as Twitter and Facebook, celebrities are making themselves more accessible to people. The negative side to this is that celebrities and internet users become easy target for cybercriminals. McAfee said, “Cybercriminals 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.”
Furthermore, says Paula Greve, “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.”
Internet users are advised to be cautious and not click on suspicious looking URL or links presented by search results. McAfee has advised consumers to take the following precautions:
Internet users are also advised to keep their computer up-to-date by regularly updating their operating systems and keeping firewalls in place.
McAfee researched popular culture’s most famous people to reveal the riskiest Hollywood actors, athletes, musicians, politicians, designers, and comedians on the Web and came up with their McAfee Most Dangerous Celebrities which started six years back, as the internet presence grew bigger and posed a bigger threat to consumers.