Jessica Biel has overtaken Brad Pitt as the most dangerous celebrity to search in cyberspace, according to Internet security company McAfee.
For the third year in a row, McAfee researched Hollywood’s glamorous stars and pop culture’s most famous people to reveal the riskiest celebrities on the Web. McAfee’s latest report found that searches for Barack or Michelle Obama posed a lesser threat compared to others.
Fans searching for “Jessica Biel” or “Jessica Biel downloads,” “Jessica Biel wallpaper,” “Jessica Biel screen savers,” “Jessica Biel photos” and “Jessica Biel videos” have a one in five chance of landing at a web site that’s tested positive for online threats, such as spyware, adware, spam, phishing, viruses and other malware. Searching for the latest celebrity news and downloads can cause serious damage to one’s personal computer.
Every day, cybercriminals use celebrities’ names and images, like Kim Kardashian and Rihanna, to lure surfers searching for the latest stories, screen savers and ringtones to sites offering free downloads laden with malware.
Pop music phenom Beyoncé maintained her number two position for the second consecutive year, setting McAfee’s record as the overall most frequent, highly-ranked celebrity in the top five.
Young Hollywood starlets (and popular tabloid subjects) Miley Cyrus, Ashley Tisdale and Lindsay Lohan all edged out Heidi Montag and Jessica Alba who appeared on last year’s list. They also ranked higher than other young personalities including “Twilight” stars Robert Pattinson (30) and Kristen Stewart (20), the Jonas Brothers (23), Taylor Swift (16), Lauren Conrad (25) Vanessa Hudgens (17) and Zac Efron (21).
Hollywood stand outs Megan Fox and Angelina Jolie have more in common than their appearance and successful careers – they tied as the eighth most dangerous celebrities on the Web. Newlyweds Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen appeared nearly side-by-side in the fourth and sixth positions, respectively, proving that hackers target those who are most in the headlines.
Surprisingly, the US President and First Lady are not among the most risky public figures to search; Barack and Michelle Obama ranked in the bottom-third of this year’s results, at 34 and 39, respectively.
The top 15 celebrities include: Jessica Biel; Beyoncé; Jennifer Aniston; Tom Brady; Jessica Simpson; Gisele Bundchen; Miley Cyrus; Megan Fox and Angelina Jolie; Ashley Tisdale; Brad Pitt; Reese Witherspoon; Britney Spears; Rihanna; Lindsay Lohan; and Kim Kardashian.
“Cybercriminals are star watchers too – they latch on to popular celebrities to encourage the download of malicious software in disguise,” says Jayson O’Reilly, regional manager for Africa at McAfee. “Consumers’ obsession with celebrity news and culture is harmless in theory, but one bad download can cause a lot of damage to a computer.”