SAN FRANCISCO – Actress Emma Watson of “Harry Potter” film fame has become the most dangerous celebrity when it comes to online searches leading to malware, a computer security firm said Monday.
This year, Watson replaced model Heidi Klum at the top of a list of actors, musicians, politicians, comedians and other notables used as online bait by cyber crooks, the security firm McAfee said.
Evil software wizards out to lure Internet users to websites cursed with hidden malicious code routinely use stars, trends, or hot news stories to get victims to click on links which install malicious code.
The viruses are designed for nefarious deeds such as commandeering control of computers or stealing passwords and other data.
“Consumers expect to be able to go online to catch up with the latest photos, videos, tweets, and stories about their favorite celebrities,” said McAfee director of Web security research Paula Greve.
“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.”
The most dangerous links were generated by searches combining celebrities with nude pictures or free downloads, according to McAfee.
Watson headed an all-female top 10 list of risky celebrities for search. She was followed by Jessica Biel, Eva Mendes, Selena Gomez, Halle Berry, Megan Fox, Shakira, Cameron Diaz, Salma Hayek and Sofia Vergara in that order.