Searching your favorite (or not) celebrity’s name online might not seem fairly harmful, but certain names might be putting you more at risk of cybercriminals than others.
That’s according to web security firm McAfee, who have just published their 11th annual Most Dangerous Celebrities study. This reveals those celebrities with the most dangerous search results, deemed as being the ones most likely to lead you to malware and other harmful things.
Previous “winners” of the accolade have included Emma Watson and Amy Schumer. This year, however, Canadian pop sensation Avril Lavigne tops the list. Congratulations!
“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,” McAfee said in a blog post. “In fact, they’re capitalizing on that by weaving in sneaky cyberthreats within celebrity sites.”
Lavigne is followed in the list by Bruno Mars, Carly Rae Jepsen, Zayn Malik, and Celine Dion. Rounding out the top ten are Calvin Harris, Justin Bieber, Diddy, Katy Perry, and Beyoncé. In the UK, Craig David was named the most dangerous celebrity to search for.
So how did Lavigne make her way to the top of the list? Well, the first reason appears to be because there’s a bizarre conspiracy theory about her, namely that the real singer died in 2003 and she’s been replaced by an imposter called Melissa. This can lead to unreliable sources and compromised 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,” said McAfee. “And unfortunately, content searches for new music [things like “Avril Lavigne + free mp3”] lead many into uncertain areas of the internet.”
Using this downloadable content to their advantage, hackers can entice people onto malicious websites and install malware on their devices to steal personal information.
So is there any hope for us mere media muggles? Why yes, yes there is. McAfee says, for a start, you should be careful what you click on. Second, searching for “free MP3” probably isn’t a fast-track to Internet security. And third, use antivirus software.