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Most Wanted Celebs Expose Searchers to Malware

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Lily Collins Avril Lavigne Sandra BullockSearching for nude pics of Lily Collins? How about Avril Lavigne or Sandra Bullock?

McAfee warns that these types of searches, along with a handful of others centered on certain celebrities, expose searchers to a high risk of malware attacks could steal your personal information.

From McAfee's announcement:

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. This year, searching for a celebrity name coupled with the search terms "free app download" and "nude pictures" resulted in the highest instances of malware-laden sites.

The McAfee Most Dangerous Celebrities study revealed the celebs and search terms that pose the greatest threat to searchers. Topping the list of most dangerous queries included those having to do with entertainers Collins, Lavigne, and Bullock in positions 1, 2 and 3, respectively.

In fact, searches centered on pictures and downloads of Collins yielded more than a "14.5 percent chance of landing on a website that has tested positive for online threats, such as spyware, adware, spam, phishing, viruses and other malware," according to McAfee.

Top 10 Most Dangerous Celebrity Searches

Among the most dangerous searches:

  • "Lily Collins and free downloads"
  • "Lily Collins and nude pictures"
  • "Lily Collins and fakes"
  • "Lily Collins and free app downloads"

Searches for women celebrities posed the greatest risk, however, actor Jon Hamm made the list as the only male in the Top 10 at No. 8.

Jon Hamm

So how do you protect your information next time you just gotta look up a pic of your favorite celeb? McAfee gave tips for safe searching that included:

  • Beware of content that prompts you to download anything before providing you the content. You may want to opt to watch streaming videos or download content from official websites of content providers.
  • "Free downloads" are significantly the highest virus-prone search term. Anyone searching for videos or files to download should be careful as not to unleash malware on their computer.
  • Established news sites may not entice you with exclusives for one solid reason: there usually aren't any. Try to stick to official news sites that you trust for breaking news. However, trusted sites can also fall prey to hackers. Make sure to use a safe search tool that will notify you of risky sites or links before you visit them.
  • Don't download videos from suspect sites. This should be common sense, but it bears repeating: don't download anything from a website you don't trust — especially video. Most news clips you'd want to see can easily be found on official video sites, and don't require you to download anything. If a website offers an exclusive video for you to download, don't.
  • Don't "log in" or provide other information: If you receive a message, text or email or visit a third-party website that asks for your information—credit card, email, home address, Facebook login, or other information—for access to an exclusive story, don't give it out. Such requests are a common tactic for phishing that could lead to identity theft.

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