McAfee has released its Most Dangerous Celebrity 2012 report. Findings by the report have revealed that, Emma Watson is the most dangerous celebrity to search for online, replacing Heidi Klum. Interestingly, in its findings, McAfee found that women made for far more dangerous search terms online than men. While Jessica Biel took the second spot and Eva Mendes the third, funnyman Jimmy Kimmel became the only male to make the top 20 list this year. Latina women took up five of the ten spots. After Mendes, Selena Gomez, Shakira and Salma Hayek took the fourth, seventh and ninth spots, respectively while Sofia Vergara rounded up the top 10 list.

Better safe, than sorry (Image credit: Getty Images)

Look before you click (Image credit: Getty Images)

Shedding more light on its findings, McAfee adds that cybercriminals are on the lookout for the current trends. They use the names of popular celebrities to get people to access malicious sites, by way of which they manage to steal passwords and personal information. McAfee expresses a concern here that in a bid to find trendy content, users often end up with a malware-ridden computer. Shockingly, the report pointed further that this year, searching for a celebrity name with terms such as “free downloads” as part of the search, among others brought forth the highest number of risky sites. 

Going further, the report quotes Paula Greve, director of web security research at McAfee as saying, “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 favorite 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. As the sophistication and expectations of consumers with respect to their online experience has increased, so has the level and ability to deliver malware either by malvertising, exploiting the user’s browser without their awareness, or masking malicious URLs behind shortened URLs.”

Part of the shocking findings put forth, McAfee found that those looking for 'Emma Watson and free downloads', 'Emma Watson and nude pictures', 'Emma Watson and fakes', and 'Emma Watson and busted' are at a higher risk of running into online threats, which can cause them to reveal their personal information. McAfee notes further that by clicking on such risky sites and downloading files and videos, users are exposed to the risk of downloading malware onto their systems.  

Speaking of numbers, McAfee research found that searching for the latest Emma Watson pictures and downloads results in more than a 12.6 percent chance of coming to a malicious website. McAfee study, as per the official statement uses McAfee SiteAdvisor site ratings, indicating which sites are risky to search for celebrity names and come to an overall risk percentage. 

Further in their official statement, McAfee shares with users an indispensible 'Tips to Stay Protected' list. Among other things, it advises users to beware of content that asks them to download anything before providing them with content. Instead, it suggests users to watch streaming videos or download videos from known sites such as Hulu, Netflix, NBC or ABCtv. It highlighted further that search strings for free downloads were noticeably the ones most susceptible to viruses. 

Importantly, McAfee advises those who use several devices to search for celebrities, to ensure that they have up-to-date, comprehensive security for all their devices. 

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