We surf the internet to find the latest celebrity gossip, discover a new song, and even interact with our favorite stars. And cybercriminals know that. In fact, they’re capitalizing on that by weaving in sneaky cyberthreats within celebrity sites. To see how cybercriminals take advantage of consumers’ obsession with pop culture, we conducted the 11th annual McAfee Most Dangerous Celebrities study, which reveals which celebrities generate the most “dangerous” search results, and create the biggest risk for users browsing the web.
First, you must be wondering– how’d we do it? McAfee conducted this study by using McAfee WebAdvisor site ratings to determine the number of risky websites generated by searches on Google, Bing and Yahoo!, that included a celebrity name and search terms likely to yield potentially malicious websites in the results. So, which celebs gives us the most cause for concern? Here’s our top 10 list:
There’s two key factors as to why A-lister Avril Lavigne takes the top spot. Oddly, she’s the target of an internet conspiracy theory that suspected the real Avril died and was replaced by an imposter. And it’s far from surprising that an internet conspiracy lead to unreliable sources and sketchy sites. The second reason is that in late 2016 Lavigne announced that she was working on a new album that will be released before the end of 2017. And unfortunately, content searches for new music lead many into uncertain areas of the internet.
For example — “Avril Lavigne + free mp3” was by far the riskiest way to search for Avril Lavigne content and resulted in a risk percentage of nearly 22%. In fact, musicians dominated this year’s list because of the dangers of searching for “free mp3,” which accounted for approximately 40% of the risky websites. Free torrent accounted for 36% of risky websites and free mp4 accounted for 24% of risky websites.
So, where do cybercriminals come in to all of this? Hackers know that consumers are looking for the latest album and movie releases from their favorite celebrities, and can use this against consumers to steal personal information. They love to leverage downloadable content like music or video files to entice consumers to visit potentially malicious websites designed to install malware.
So, since music could lead to malware, the next question is, how do you ensure your favorite artist doesn’t cost you your personal data? For starters, follow these tips:
- Be careful what you click. Are you looking for a sneak-peak at Avril Lavigne’s rumored 2017 album? It’s best to wait for the official release than to visit a third-party website that could contain malware.
- Searching for free MP3s? Be careful! Searching for “free MP3” returned the highest number of risky websites, so it’s important for consumers to be vigilant and ensure they are searching safely. If a website comes up that doesn’t seem 100% trustworthy, avoid paying it a visit.
- Always browse with security protection. Whether you’re eager to learn more about your favorite artist’s background, or just discover new music, it’s important that you search the web safely. A tool such as McAfee WebAdvisor can help keep you safe by identifying malicious websites and warning the user before they click.
And, of course, stay on top of the latest consumer and mobile security threats by following me and @McAfee_Home on Twitter, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.