Lily Collins, Phil Collins’ daughter and star of “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones,” has been named McAfee’s “Most Dangerous Celebrity” for 2013. Collins is one of the top young stars today, but searching for her online could land users on a page full of spam, adware or malware.
McAfee, the company behind the popular anti-virus software, analyzed search results for popular celebrities for links to pages that may contain a host of malware or viruses that could put a user’s computer, and personal information, at risk. According to McAfee, “Cybercriminals consistently take advantage of consumer interest around award shows, new movies and TV shows as well as the latest cultural trends driven by celebrities. These criminals capitalize on the public’s fascination with celebrity to lure them to sites laden with malware that enables them to steal passwords and personal information.”
A search for Collins resulted in a 14.5 percent chance of landing on a page with malware. The only actor to make it in the top 10 of dangerous celebrities of 2013 was “Mad Men’s” Jon Hamm, coming in at eighth place and a 10 percent chance of being directed to a dangerous site. Behind Collins, a search for Avril Lavigne had a 12.7 percent chance of encountering malware. Rounding out the top five were Sandra Bullock (10.8 percent), Kathy Griffin (10.6 percent) and Zoe Saldana (10.5 percent). Other notably "dangerous" celebrities include Katy Perry, in sixth place with a 10.4 percent risk, Britney Spears in seventh place, 10.1 percent risk. Emma Roberts, Julia Roberts’ daughter and star of the upcoming “American Horror Story: Coven,” was in tenth place, carrying a 9.8 risk of running into malware.
According to McAfee, female celebrities are far more dangerous than males. In addition to Hamm, Justin Timberlake (12) and Patrick Dempsey (13) were the only other men to crack the top 20. Plenty of searches for musicians also could lead to dangerous sites with Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga and Beyonce all landing in the top 50.
Paula Greve, director of Web security research at McAfee, said many Internet users will search for a celebrity and disregard their safety in order to get the latest rumor or gossip. “Cybercriminals prey on consumers’ addiction to breaking news and leverage this behavior to lead them to unsafe sites that can severely infect their computers and devices and steal personal data,” said Greve.
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Many users searching for “Lily Collins and nude pictures” or “Lily Collins and fakes” were directed to sites that had tested positive for phishing, spyware, adware or viruses, notes McAfee. The cybersecurity company recommends users avoid phrases like “nude pictures,” “free download” or “free app download.” Be wary of any site that wants you to download something, be it a new plugin or program, prior to accessing a video and don’t download videos or files from sites you do not know or visit regularly. McAfee also reminds users to not provide personal information, or login details, from a third party via email or text.