Emma Watson tops McAfee’s Most Dangerous Celebrities list

10 Sep 2012

Actress Emma Watson at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival premiere of Struck by Lightning. Image via Wikimedia Commons

Actress Emma Watson’s name is the one cyber-criminals most often use to lure online searchers into downloading malicious software or handing over personal information, security firm McAfee’s Most Dangerous Celebrities study reveals.

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, the study says.

McAfee’s Top 10 Most Dangerous Celebrities

  1. Emma Watson
  2. Jessica Biel
  3. Eva Mendes
  4. Selena Gomez
  5. Halle Berry
  6. Megan Fox
  7. Shakira
  8. Cameron Diaz
  9. Salma Hayek
  10. Sofia Vergara

McAfee’s sixth annual research on ‘dangerous celebrities’ found that searching for the latest Emma Watson pictures and downloads yields more than a 12.6pc chance of landing on a website that has tested positive for online threats, such as spyware, adware, spam, phishing, viruses and other malware.

“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 favourite celebrities,” said Paula Greve, director of web security research at McAfee.  

“Due to the richness of the data and the high interaction, oftentimes consumers forget the risks that they are taking by clicking on the links. 

“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.”

McAfee offers the following tips to help web surfers protect themselves against malware and phishing:

  • Beware of content that prompts you to download anything before providing you with content. You may want to opt to watch streaming videos or download content from an established site, such as Hulu or Netflix.
  • Free downloads are significantly the highest virus-prone search terms. Anyone searching for videos or files to download should be careful as not to unleash malware on his or her computer.
  • Since most people use various devices to search for celebrities, be sure you have up-to-date, comprehensive security for all of your devices.

Tina Costanza was a journalist and sub-editor at Silicon Republic