Searching For Celebrities Leads To Security Risks

    September 16, 2008

Actor Brad Pitt has surpassed Paris Hilton to become the most dangerous celebrity to search for on the Web according to Internet security company McAfee.

Users searching for "Brad Pitt," "Brad Pitt downloads," and Brad Pitt wallpaper, screen savers and pictures have an 18 percent chance of having their PCs infected with online threats, such as spyware, adware, viruses and other malware.

Cybercriminals are also using names and images, like Beyonce and Justin Timberlake, to attract Internet users to bogus web sites that look legitimate.

Brad Pitt and Justin Timberlake are the riskiest men to search for online and Beyonce and Heidi Montag top the list for women.

When searching for "Brad Pitt screensavers" more than half of the results led to Web sites identified as containing malicious downloads with spyware, adware and potential viruses.

Searching for "Beyonce ringtones" led to sites that promote misleading offers in order to collect users personal information.

When searching for "Justin Timberlake downloads" on Web site, advertised free music downloads that led directly to spam, spyware and adware.

"Cybercriminals employ numerous methods, yet one of the simplest but most effective ways is to trick consumers into infecting themselves by capitalizing on Americans’ interest in celebrity gossip," said Jeff Green,Senior Vice President ofMcAfee’s Product Development & Avert Labs.

"Tapping into current events, pop culture or commonly browsed sites is an easy way to achieve this. And because of Americans’ obsession with following celebrities’ lifestyles, they are an obvious target. We have to take precautions in casually navigating the Web since many subtle sites may be rife with malware for consumers’ computers."