We all do it. We probably all just don’t admit it. Well I admit it—I’ve searched for that elusive picture of Kimye’s baby North (who I thought would be called Kadence, but I’m not in the know, which is why I’m on the search engines constantly). But what most of us don’t realize is that searching for celebrities and other hot topics in the news could put us and our computers, smartphones and tablets at risk.
Cybercriminals know that search engines (like Google, Yahoo! and Bing) can also be used for criminal means. They know that if they use breaking news, celebrity gossip, or must-have free content, they are more likely to lure you into clicking on phony pages that are designed to steal your money and personal information.
Today, McAfee released research that found Lily Collins, star of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, has replaced Emma Watson as the 2013 Most Dangerous Celebrity™. McAfee found that searching for the latest Lily Collins pictures and downloads yields more than a 14.5% chance of landing on a website that has tested positive for online threats, such as spyware, adware, spam, phishing, viruses and other malware.
This actress and natural beauty can give you much more than you bargained for, so be careful what you ask that mirror on the wall. She first gained attention as Sandra Bullock’s (who’s #3 on the list) daughter in The Blind Side and has been gaining momentum with films such as Mirror Mirror and the Mortal Instruments series. She’s also daughter of renowned singer and songwriter, Phil Collins, and has been in showbiz for almost 20 years. With notoriety like she has, the bad guys are bound to pay attention.
The study uses McAfee® SiteAdvisor® site ratings, which indicate which sites are risky when attached to celebrity names on the Web and calculate an overall risk percentage. The study also found that, for a second year in a row, women are more dangerous than men, with Mad Men star Jon Hamm, being the only male to crack the top ten.
So while it’s probably not feasible for us to stop searching on the latest hot topics and celebrity gossip, we can make sure we are safe while doing so. Here are some tips for you to stay safe online:
- Be suspicious — If a search turns up a link to free content or too-good-to-be-true offers
- Be extra cautious when searching on hot topics — Cybercriminals set up fake and malicious sites that dominate these time-sensitive search results
- Check the Web address — Look for misspellings or other clues that the link might be directed to a phony website
- Protect yourself — Use comprehensive security on all your PCs, Macs, smartphone and tablets, like McAfee Live Safe™ service, that comes with a safe search tool that protects your from going to risky websites.
Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Expert to McAfee. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked! Disclosures.