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Security Warning:  Emma Watson Tops 2012’s Most Dangerous Celebrities List #riskyceleb

Searches for Emma Watson, best known for her role as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter movie series, yield nearly a one-in-eight chance of landing on a website that has tested positive for spyware, adware, spam, phishing, viruses or other malicious content according to McAfee's 6th annual Most Dangerous Celebrities™ research report.

Threat Level

Warning:  Dangerous Internet Content.

(A "warning" alert is for a situation that are currently occurring or conditions are right for the situation to occur soon.)

Severity:  Medium. Lure to malicious content.

How Are Systems Compromised?

Cybercriminals often use the promises of photos, videos, or scandalous news about popular celebrities to tempt viewers to visit websites that actually contain malicious content designed to do harm to your computer, steal passwords, and steal your identity.  Celebrities can be dangerous—when you search for them online.

The computer security company McAfee released its 6th annual riskiest celebrities to search for online on Monday, September 10, 2012.  The top 10 riskiest celebrities to search for from this year's study are:

  1. Emma Watson
  2. Jessica Biel
  3. Eva Mendes
  4. Selena Gomez
  5. Halle Berry
  6. Megan Fox
  7. Shakira
  8. Cameron Diaz
  9. Salma Hayek
  10. Sofia Vergara

The company said the list was based on McAfee SiteAdvisor site rankings.

The bait that lures you to malicious websites may be the latest Twitter trend, a breaking news story, a significant world event, downloads, and even celebrity pictures or gossip.

How Do I Protect My Computer?

Be extra cautious when searching for or reading e-mail about hot topics like celebrity gossip, political news, and natural disasters, especially if they are offering free content.

Free downloads are significantly the highest risk.  Searching for videos, photos, or files can unleash malware on your computer.  Stick with content from an well-known sites, such as YouTube, Vimeo, Dailymotion, Hulu and Netflix.

Beware of websites that prompts you to download anything before providing you with content.

Check the URL for misspellings or other clues that the link might go to a phony website.  Scammers may try to fool you with a genuine-looking URL that is actually a link to their malicious website.  Hover your mouse over a link to preview the destination URL.

Be sure all of your devices, including PCs, Macs, smartphones, tablets and netbooks, are up-to-date.  The latest updates for your operating system are important.  Common non-Microsoft software such as Adobe Flash Player, Adobe Reader, Oracle/Sun Java, Apple QuickTime player, Mozilla Firefox, and Google Chrome are frequent targets and might take a little more work to be sure that they are updated.  Even if you have enabled automatic update of those programs, you might have to log on to your PC as an administrator and might have to accept/approve the update before they are installed.  When an update notifies you that your computer needs to be restarted, do not delay that restart.

Make sure that you have a current subscription to a virus protection product on all your devices, it is getting updates for virus definitions and engine updates, and the real-time protection is enabled.

Use a web site reputation product that annotates web searches such as McAfee SiteAdvisor, which is a free service.

More Information


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Professional Services

If you need assistance installing protection from malicious web sites or a security assessment, IT Professional Services can help. Call our help desk.

If you do not have network edge protection that can do web content filtering, ITPS has a Unified Threat Management (UTM) gateway service that can provide that protection.  To schedule a free 30-day trial of the UTM gateway, contact us.

Find out more about our Managed Care service.

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