Want to catch a virus? Cheryl Cole is 'most dangerous' British celebrity

Security firm McAfee’s latest study finds searches for X Factor judge most likely to lead to malware online.

Cheryl Cole may have returned to The X Factor, but she’s brought a variety of viruses with her. But it’s internet users who need to worry, rather than her fellow judges on the TV talent show. Online security firm McAfee claims that Cole is the “most dangerous” celebrity in the UK in terms of internet searches that lead to sites linked to viruses, spam, phishing and other malware.

The company claims that searching for terms including “Cheryl Cole downloads” and Cheryl Cole mp4s” result in a 15% chance of visiting potentially risky websites, calculated using McAfee’s SiteAdvisor ratings system.

Musicians are prominent in the chart of the 10 most dangerous celebrity-related searches published by the company, with Cole joined by Jessie J, Alesha Dixon, Ellie Goulding, Pixie Lott, Harry Styles, Lily Allen and Rita Ora in the list.

Only actor Daniel Radcliffe and retired footballer David Beckham make the top 10 from outside the music industry. McAfee notes that all four of Styles’ One Direction bandmates are inside the top 20, which has not been published.

“The desire for consumers to have access to the latest celebrity information can often make them vulnerable to cybercrime,” said McAfee Labs’ product manager Samantha Humphries-Swift, as the data was announced.

“Most consumers do not realise the security risks they are exposing themselves to when searching for celebrity videos and images online. But cyber criminals can exploit this desire for breaking celebrity news, leading consumers to sites that download harmful malware onto their devices and compromise personal data.”

Searches for Cole may be risky, but she’s still less virus-ridden (in this sense) than US chat-show host Jimmy Kimmel, who has topped McAfee’s separate list of US celebrities with a 19% chance of searches leading to malware sites.

Such charts take the pulse of the celebrities that malware creators think are most likely to bring internet users flocking to their sites. It’s something that can be influenced by general popularity, but also by topical events: the recent spate of leaked nude celebrity photos being a prime example.



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