Cheryl Cole of the hit TV show X Factor is now the most ‘dangerous’ celebrity UK Internet users can punch into a search engine, according to McAfee’s SiteAdvisor security filter.
Entering her name – or any one of a top ten littered with names so famous most of the population over 40 have probably never heard of them – has a significant chance of leading the user to a range of frauds, cons and direct threats, starting with malware, the firm said.
Other UK celebs targeted by the malware pushers includes Daniel Radcliffe, Jesse J, and David Beckham. For US users, the largest number of rogue searches are associated with TV show host Jimmy Kimmel, ahead of Armin van Buren, Ciara, Flo Rida and, of all people, Bruce Springsteen.
“Most consumers do not realise the security risks they are exposing themselves to when searching for celebrity videos and images online,” said McAfee Labs’ Samantha Humphries-Swift.
“Cybercriminals can exploit this desire for breaking celebrity news, leading consumers to sites that download harmful malware onto their devices and compromise personal data.”
Given that McAfee has been reporting on dangerous celebs for a number of years, this is an extraordinary admission. Clearly, consumers aren’t listening or some of them were too young to have heard the older warnings.
Past winners for US-based searchers include Brad Pitt in 2008, Cameron Diaz in 2010 and Jay Leno in 2011, and in the UK Lily Collins in 2013. The list the firm comes up with each year is plausible but does only reflect the world as its SiteAdvisor tool sees it.
Cheryl Cole apparently changed her name to Jean-Fernandez-Versini earlier this year, which McAfee thinks might protect her from the malware fame bug in future. More likely, the peak of her fame has passed anyway. Malware marketers are going to be the first to detect changes in celebrity rankings.