Top celebrity name most abused by malware writers: Brad Pitt

But what of Paris Hilton and evil downloads?

Brad Pitt, Mariah Carey and George Clooney are among the stars whose names are being most exploited across the Web to lure unwary fans into downloading wallpaper and screensaver software that's really malware in disguise.

McAfee this week issued a list of the 15 celebrity names it found to be most abused by those peddling crimeware. The most surprising omission: Paris Hilton, last year's No. 1 most hijacked celebrity name.

"It's completely disappeared," says Shane Keats, research analyst at McAfee, which is at a loss to explain exactly why.

The connection between celebrity names and malware across the Web is extreme, says Keats, noting that 18 percent of the Web sites discovered associated with the name Brad Pitt were found to have some sort of malware associated with them. "That's high, when you consider that as a whole, about 4 percent to 5 percent of Web sites are risky across the entire Web.

"The bad guys follow the crowds and they're interested in making a buck off stealing your identity," says Keats. It's better to stick with well-known sites that focus on celebrity news, such as Entertainment Weekly, as the safest way to follow celebrity happenings, he notes.

As far as the celebrity names that have been most abused and exploited this year to create dangerous Web sites, malware downloads and spam, the top three names, according to McAfee, are:

1. Brad Pitt. When "Brad Pitt screensavers" was searched, more than half of the reporting Web sites were identified as containing malicious downloads with spyware, adware and potential viruses, according to McAfee.

2. Beyonce. Inputting "Beyonce ringtones" into a search engine yields risky Web sites that promote misleading offers to gather consumers' personal information, according to McAfee.

3. Justin Timberlake. Spammer and hackers exploit interest in his high-profile relationships, and a search for "Justin Timberlake downloads" was flagged as leading to spam, spyware and adware.

The dozen other most-exploited celebrity names and combinations thereof are Heidi Montag, Mariah Carey, Jessica Alba, Lindsay Lohan, Cameron Diaz, George Clooney, Rihanna, Angelina Jolie, Fergie, David Beckham, Katie Holmes and Katherine Heigl.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags malwarespam

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ellen Messmer

Network World
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?