Why women are more dangerous than men on cyber-attacks

Every year security vendor McAfee posts its most dangerous cyber celebrities. This year rising young actress Lily Collins (pop star Phil Collins‘ daughter), has supplanted Emma Watson as McAfee’s 2013 Most Dangerous Cyber Celebrity. Canadian singer/songwriter Avril Lavigne came in second.  Emma Watson dropped off the Top 50 list completely showing that fame is even fleeting in the world of cyber terrorism.

But one of the more interesting trends that report found is that women are more dangerous than men. The report ranked Man Men TV actor Jon Hamm No. 8 on the Top 10. He is the only male to crack the list. Justin Timberlake, who has made this list in previous years managed to get to No. 12, while Patrick Dempsey came in at No. 13. Those were the only three male celebrities in the Top 20.
The McAfee Dangerous Celebrities report is now in its seventh year and found that pop culture celebrities are risky on the Web and result mostly in bad links, including viruses, malware, and sites laden with malicious software designed to steal passwords and personal information.

McAfee also warned music lovers to be cautious online as three musicians: Lavigne, Katy Perry (No. 6), and Britney Spears (No. 7) made the Top 10 and a total of 17 musicians ranked in the Top 50.
Hackers also targeted comedians such as Sandra Bullock (No. 3), Collins co-star in the hit film The Blind Side. Funny lady Kathy Griffin may think she is a C-Lister, but not with cyber-criminals. Griffin placed No. 4. Saturday Night Live’s Amy Poehler was No. 17. Talk show hosts were all over the Top 50 with Ellen DeGeneres at No. 23, Jimmy Fallon at No. 24, and Jimmy Kimmel at No. 39.

This was the first year where reality TV stars made an impact on the list of the Most Dangerous Celebrities. The Voice co-judges Blake Shelton came in at No. 21, Adam Levine, who is the front man for Maroon 5 and not a reality TV star came in at No. 32, but McAfee slotted him as a reality celebrity. Cyber crooks are keeping up with the Kardashians. Kourtney Kardashian place 27th, while Kim Kardashian was No. 35 and her sister Khloe Kardashian was right beside her at No. 36.

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 celebrities 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.

Paula Greve, director of Web security research at McAfee, said today’s consumers often are completely unaware of security risks when searching for celebrity and entertainment news, images and videos online, sacrificing safety for immediacy. Cybercriminals prey on consumer’s addiction to breaking news, and they leverage this behaviour to lead them to unsafe sites that can severely infect their computers and devices and steal personal data.

Why was Lily Collins No. 1? Well, McAfee found that a search of Collins yielded nearly one-in-seven chance of landing on a malicious site. Those unfortunate people who coupled the search by adding “free downloads” or “nude pictures” were hit with online threats to their personal information such as email addresses and passwords.
McAfee research found that searching for the latest Lily Collins pictures and downloads yields more than a 14.5 per cent chance of landing on a Web site that has tested positive for online threats such as spyware, adware, spam, phishing, viruses and other malware.

The study used McAfee SiteAdvisor ratings, which indicate which sites are risky to search when attached to celebrity names on the Web and calculate an overall risk percentage. The top 10 celebrities from this year’s study with the highest percentages of risk include the following:

  • 1    Lily Collins    14.5%
  • 2    Avril Lavigne    12.7%
  • 3    Sandra Bullock    10.8%
  • 4    Kathy Griffin    10.6%
  • 5    Zoe Saldana    10.5%
  • 6    Katy Perry    10.4%
  • 7    Britney Spears    10.1%
  • 8    Jon Hamm    10.0%
  • 9    Adriana Lima    9.9%
  • 10    Emma Roberts    9.8%

Maybe the most surprising factoid from this list is that Emma Watson along with other 2012 Top 10 celebrities Jessica Biel and Megan Fox all failed to make the Top 50 list. Maybe that’s a good thing?

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