Emma Watson, the actress who played Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter movie franchise, has won the unenviable title of Most Dangerous Cyber Celebrity in McAfee’s 2012 Most Dangerous Celebrities™ study. Emma Watson has replaced last year’s winner Heidi Klum, to be named the 2012 most dangerous celebrity to search for online.
Whist Dannii Minogue is the Most Dangerous Celebrity to search for online in Australia, internet users should also take care when searching for Australia’s Isla Fisher and Elle Macpherson in cyberspace, as they are ranked 11th and 16th respectively in the list of most dangerous cyber celebrities.
For the sixth year in a row, McAfee researched popular culture’s most famous people to reveal the riskiest actors, athletes, musicians, politicians, designers and comedians on the web. This year, searching for a celebrity name with “free downloads” and “nude pictures” as part of the search term resulted in the highest result of risky sites.
Internet security experts warn that cyber-criminals follow the latest trends, often using the names of popular celebrities to lure people to sites that are actually laden with malicious software designed to steal passwords and personal information. If you’re not careful when you’re searching for the latest videos or files to download, you could end up with a malware-ridden computer along with the trendy content.
The McAfee Most Dangerous Celebrities™ study also found that women are more dangerous than men with Jessica Biel taking the number two spot and Eva Mendes coming in third. Comedian Jimmy Kimmel is the only male to make the top 20 list this year.
McAfee research found that searching for the latest Emma Watson pictures and downloads yields more than a 12.6% chance of landing on a website that has tested positive for online threats, such as spyware, adware, spam, phishing, viruses and other malware.
“The searches for Emma Watson identified one risky website in around every eight results,” said Melanie Cole, Consumer Marketing Programs Director, McAfee Asia Pacific.
The top 10 celebrities from this year’s study with the highest percentages of risk are:
1. Emma Watson – Best known for her role as Hermione Granger in the “Harry Potter” franchise, the British actress tops the list as the 2012 Most Dangerous Celebrity. Watson continues to star in feature films including “My Week with Marilyn” and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” and is an ambassador for Lancôme.
2. Jessica Biel – The 2009 Most Dangerous Celebrity rose two spots this year from coming in at number 4 in 2011. Biel continues to be in the spotlight with fiancée Justin Timberlake and her role in 2012’s “Total Recall.”
3. Eva Mendes – A new addition to the list, Mendes has starred in films including “2 Fast 2 Furious” and “Hitch.” She is currently in the news for her fling with Ryan Gosling.
4. Selena Gomez – The tween musician and actress is best known for her role as Alex Russo on Disney’s “Wizards of Waverly Place” and for dating teen heartthrob Justin Bieber. She has been cast in the upcoming film “Parental Guidance Suggested” and was recently named one of Forbes’ Top 10 Best Social Media Superstars.
5. Halle Berry – The Academy Award winning actress is famous for her stand out roles in action and horror films including “Catwoman” and “Gothika”. Berry is in the spotlight for her custody battle with baby daddy Gabriel Aubry.
6. Megan Fox – The sexy actress rose 9 spots compared to her number 15 spot last year. She is currently in the news for her pregnancy with husband Brian Austin Green and will be seen in the upcoming film “This is 40”.
7. Shakira – The belly-dancing singer/songwriter best known for her songs “Hips Don’t Lie” and “Whenever, Wherever” comes in at number 7. She was recently named one of Forbes’ World’s Most Powerful Women and was ranked number 6 on Forbes’ Top 10 Best Social Media Superstars.
8. Cameron Diaz – 2010’s Most Dangerous Celebrity fell to eighth place, with searches resulting in slightly fewer risky sites this year. She was most recently in the spotlight for allegedly dating Alex Rodriguez. She is rumored to star in “Expendables 3.”
9. Salma Hayek – The actress, producer and director received an Academy Award for her role as Frida Kahlo in “Frida” and recently starred in “Savages.” She is currently in the news for her controversial remarks about her Mexican heritage in a Vogue interview. She is married to billionaire François-Henri Pinault.
10. Sofia Vergara – The Columbian actress and model best known for her comedic role as Gloria Delgado-Pritchett on ABC’s Emmy Award winning “Modern Family” rounds out the top 10 list. She also starred in the “The Three Stooges” film this year and was recently named one of Forbes’ World’s Most Powerful Women and highest paid TV actress. She recently announced her engagement to businessman Nick Loeb.
The study used McAfee® SiteAdvisor® site ratings, which indicates which sites are risky, to search for celebrity names on the Web and calculate an overall risk percentage.
Paula Greve, director of web research at McAfee, said, “In today’s celebrity culture, consumers expect to be able to go online to catch up with the latest photos, videos, tweets, and stories about their favourite celebrities. Due to the richness of the data and the high interaction, often times consumers forget the risks that they are taking by clicking on the links.”
One of the biggest threats with searching online is malvertising, exploiting the user’s browser without their awareness, or masking malicious URLs behind shortened URLs.