Why googling Emma Watson can get you into trouble

Sep 10, 2012

Harry Potter star deemed the most 'dangerous celebrity' to search for online by McAfee

Jason Merritt

EMMA WATSON is the most "dangerous" celebrity to search for on the web, according to technology security firm McAfee.

The Harry Potter actress is the favourite celebrity bait for cyber criminals who use searches for Watson to trick users into downloading malicious software or to steal their personal information.

McAfee claims that by searching for the latest Emma Watson pictures and downloads, you risk a one-in-eight chance of landing on a website that has tested positive for online threats, such as spyware, spam, phishing and viruses.

Unsurprisingly, searching for “Emma Watson” with "free downloads" or "nude pictures" as part of the search term resulted in an even higher number of risky sites.

Cyber criminals follow the latest trends, often using the names of popular celebrities to lure people to sites that are actually laden with malicious software designed to steal passwords and personal information. However, McAfee notes that Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson were all absent from this year's top 50 list despite the publicity surrounding their break-ups.

Watson knocked 2011's most dangerous celeb Heidi Klum off the top spot, while Jessica Biel, who topped the list in 2009, came in second. Selena Gomez, Megan Fox, Eva Mendes, Halle Berry and Cameron Diaz were also included in the list of "risky celebrities".

This is the sixth time the company has conducted the study, which has shown that female celebrities are far more likely to be used by cyber criminals. Late-night host Jimmy Kimmel was the only male in this year’s top 20.

"This all seems pretty unfair to Hermione, who has a new movie coming out (Perks of Becoming a Wallflower) and should not become the victim of Google prejudice," writes Jen Chaney in the Washington Post. "It's entirely possible that simply by reading this item, your identities have already been stolen," she jokes.

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