Celebrities Are Lures For Scammers

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“Just Google it.” You’ve probably heard this phrase a thousand times before, and for good reason—search is one of the top activities we do online[1]. But while you are searching online for information and content, keep in mind that scammers are also searching for victims.

Scammers have been very productive in creating fake or infected websites, which are designed to do harm to your computer, your finances or your identity. The bait that lures us to these infected websites may be the latest Twitter trend, a breaking news story, a significant world event, downloads, and even celebrity pictures or gossip. And, the more popular the search, the more likely you are to run into dangerous results.

For the 6th year in a row, McAfee researched popular culture’s most famous people to reveal which ones are the riskiest to search for online. Emma Watson has taken over the #1 spot from Heidi Klum as the Most Dangerous Celebrity to search for on the Web (#riskyceleb). This year also marks the first time that the entire Top 10 list is comprised of all women. The top 10 celebrities from this year’s study with the highest percentages of risk are:

 

Cybercriminals often use the names of popular celebrities to tempt viewers to visit websites that are actually laden with malicious software. Anyone looking for the latest videos or pictures could end up with a malware-ridden computer instead of the trendy content they were expecting.

And beware of “free” things. Scammers know that this is a word that can get a lot of attention and will use this as a way to get to you. This year, when searching for “Emma Watson and ‘free’ downloads,” and “Emma Watson and hot pictures” and “Emma Watson and videos” you run the risk of running into online threats designed to steal your personal information.

Here’s some tips to help you stay safe while searching online (whether it be from your PC or mobile device):

  • Use common sense: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Always double-check the web address (URL) that you are going to. For example, if you are searching for Amazon.com and get a result for “Amazzon.cn”, you should know not to click.
  • Use a safe search plug-in, such as McAfee® SiteAdvisor® software that displays a red, yellow, or green ratings in search results, warning you to potential risky sites before you click on them.
  • Use comprehensive security software to protect against the latest threats.

[1] http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Search-and-email/Report.aspx

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