Who is the most dangerous cyber celebrity?

Emma Watson has replaced Heidi Klum as McAfee’s 2012 most dangerous celebrity to search for online. For the sixth year in a row, McAfee researched popular culture’s most famous people to reveal the riskiest Hollywood actors, athletes, musicians, politicians, designers, and comedians on the Web.

Their study found that women are more dangerous than men with Jessica Biel taking the number two spot and Eva Mendes coming in third. Latina women have proven that they are on fire and make up five of the top ten spots. After Mendes, Selena Gomez, Shakira and Salma Hayek take the fourth, seventh and ninth spot and Sofia Vergara rounds out the top 10 list. Funnyman Jimmy Kimmel is the only male to make the top 20 list this year.

Cybercriminals follow the latest trends, often using the names of popular celebrities to lure people to sites that are actually laden with malicious software that are designed to steal passwords and personal information.

Anyone looking for the latest videos or files to download could end up with a malware-ridden computer along with the trendy content. This year, searching for a celebrity name with “free downloads” and “nude pictures” as part of the search term resulted in the highest result of risky sites.

“In today’s celebrity culture, consumers expect to be able to go online to catch up with the latest photos, videos, tweets, and stories about their favorite celebrities. 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,” said Paula Greve, director of web security research at McAfee. “As the sophistication and expectations of consumers with respect to their online experience has increased, so has the level and ability to deliver malware either by malvertising, exploiting the user’s browser without their awareness, or masking malicious URLs behind shortened URLs.”

Fans searching for “Emma Watson and free downloads,” “Emma Watson and nude pictures,” “Emma Watson and fakes,” and “Emma Watson and busted” are at risk of running into online threats designed to steal personal information. Clicking on these risky sites and downloading files like pictures and videos exposes surfers or consumers to the risk of downloading viruses and malware.

McAfee research found that searching for the latest Emma Watson pictures and downloads yields more than a 12.6% chance of landing on a website that has tested positive for online threats, such as spyware, adware, spam, phishing, viruses and other malware.

The top 10 celebrities from this year’s study with the highest percentages of risk are:

1. Emma Watson – Best known for her role as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter franchise, the British actress tops the list as the 2012 Most Dangerous Celebrity.

2. Jessica Biel – The 2009 Most Dangerous Celebrity rose two spots this year from coming in at number 4 in 2011. Biel continues to be in the spotlight with fiancée Justin Timberlake and her role in 2012’s “Total Recall.”

3. Eva Mendes – A new addition to the list, Mendes has starred in films including “2 Fast 2 Furious” and “Hitch.” She is currently in the news for her fling with Ryan Gosling.

4. Selena Gomez – The tween musician and actress is best known for her role as Alex Russo on Disney’s “Wizards of Waverly Place” and for dating Justin Bieber.

5. Halle Berry – The Academy Award winning actress is famous for her stand out roles in action and horror films including “Catwoman” and “Gothika”. Berry is in the spotlight for her custody battle with baby daddy Gabriel Aubry.

6. Megan Fox – This actress rose 9 spots compared to her number 15 spot last year. She is currently in the news for her pregnancy with husband Brian Austin Green and will be seen in the upcoming film “This is 40”.

7. Shakira – The belly-dancing singer/songwriter best known for her songs “Hips Don’t Lie” and “Whenever, Wherever” comes in at number 7.

8. Cameron Diaz – 2010’s Most Dangerous Celebrity fell to eighth place, with searches resulting in slightly fewer risky sites this year. She was most recently in the spotlight for allegedly dating Alex Rodriguez.

9. Salma Hayek – The actress, producer and director received an Academy Award for her role as Frida Kahlo in “Frida” and recently starred in “Savages.” She is currently in the news for her controversial remarks about her Mexican heritage in a Vogue interview.

10. Sofia Vergara – The Columbian actress and model best known for her comedic role as Gloria Delgado-Pritchett on ABC’s Emmy Award winning “Modern Family” rounds out the top 10 list. She also starred in the “The Three Stooges” film this year and was recently named one of Forbes’ World’s Most Powerful Women and highest paid TV actress.




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