The Most Dangerous Person on the Internet?
Every year, security software vendor McAfee publishes a list of the 'most dangerous celebrities.' It has nothing to do with how many times they've been in rehab, or how 'bad' their screen persona may be. It's their popularity that induces cyber-criminals to create malicious websites. Here's what you need to know before you head off to your favorite search tool...
Emma Watson: Cute but Dangerous
Regardless of your motivation for doing so, you’re taking a big risk by searching for racy or embarrassing pictures of “Harry Potter” star Emma Watson. It’s not the Feds who will be after you, but hackers and identity thieves.
This year, the lovely Ms. Watson, who played Hermione in the Harry Potter movies, claims the number one spot on the “most dangerous celebrities to search for” list compiled by Intel-owned McAfee. The security research and software development firm has produced similar lists for the past six years.
According to McAfee, searches for “Emma Watson” combined with keywords such as "nude," "busted," "free downloads” and similar terms give you a one-in-eight chance of landing on a malicious fake Web site. These sites use a variety of tricks to steal personal information or infect your system with viruses, spyware, adware, phishing or other forms of malware. It’s not clear from the study if a search for plain old “Emma Watson” search produces similarly risky results.
This year’s list marks the first time the top 10 most dangerous celebrities are all women. In fact, only one man – comedian Jimmy Kimmel – made it into the top 20. Latin women and singers pose a bigger risk than most. Miss Watson may not appreciate the honor, but she can take some comfort in knowing that she beat out supermodel Heidi Klum (last year's winner) and the rest of the top 10, which includes Jessica Biel, Eva Mendes, Selena Gomez, Halle Berry, Megan Fox, Shakira, Cameron Diaz, Salma Hayek, and Sofia Vergara.
The study used McAfee’s Site Advisor service ratings to identify potentially risky Web sites. Site Advisor relies on test results run on thousands of sites per day by McAfee. Site Advisor software that can alert you to potentially dangerous sites before you visit them is available free of charge and is incorporated in McAfee security products.
The implication of course is that McAfee's antivirus and other security products will protect you from Emma Watson and all other forms of online evil. That may be true, but there are many other excellent Internet security tools (some free) that you can use. See my article Free Anti-Virus Programs for some suggestions.
McAfee does offer some common-sense advice to protect yourself against the most dangerous women online:
- Beware of “free” stuff, especially if it sounds valuable. Scammers use the word “free” in conjunction with celebrities’ names to attract the greedy and gullible to promises of salacious photos or juicy gossip.
- Stick to well known, trusted celebrity news sites such as TMZ or E! Online. Always double-check the URL before clicking on it. Subtle misspellings such as “Amazon.cn” or “EmmaWats0n.com” are clues that a site is not the one it purports to be.
- Use safe-surfing browser plugins like Site Advisor, and keep your other security software up to date.
Have you been burned by a web search that steered you to malicious content? Post your comment or question below.
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 11 Sep 2012
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Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved