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Cameron Diaz: The internet's most dangerous woman
A web search for the 'Knight and Day' star could result in a wrecked computer or even identity theft. How?
 
Searching for Cameron Diaz photos carries a 10 percent overall risk of landing on a website that contains viruses.
Searching for Cameron Diaz photos carries a 10 percent overall risk of landing on a website that contains viruses.
Getty

Cameron Diaz is the most dangerous person to search for on the web, according to web security firm McAfee's annual list of "Most Dangerous Celebrities." (Watch a report about McAfee's list.) She supplanted last year's title-holder, Jessica Biel. The list highlights which famous names "cybercriminals" use most often to lure curious web-surfers on to sites laden with malicious software:

How likely are you to get a virus searching for Cameron Diaz?
If you search for Cameron Diaz pictures, videos, wallpapers, or downloads you run a 10 percent overall risk of landing on a website that contains viruses or other malware, according to McAfee. The specific term "Cameron Diaz screensaver," however, has a 19 percent chance of leading you to harmful content.

Why is searching for celebrities dangerous?
Because cybercriminals "prey on hot topics and social trends to exploit gullible users," says Tony Bradley at PC World. Celebrities are regularly at the top of most-searched-for lists, and malware developers create fake links and sites taking advantage of the "heightened interest" in the biggest names.

Besides Diaz and Biel, what other celebrities are hazardous to search?
Julia Roberts was second-most dangerous in the latest survey. Other hazardous celebrities include Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Gisele Bundchen, Heidi Klum, and Adriana Lima. (Click here for the full list.) 

Has searching for celebrities online become more dangerous?
Actually, the risks seem to be declining. "This year, the search results for celebrities are safer than they've been in previous years," says McAfee security researcher Dave Marcus. But cybercriminals are "getting sneakier." This year has seen a rise in viruses contained in "shortened URLs that can spread virally in social networking sites and Twitter," Marcus says.

How can I avoid these harmful sites?
Our advice is to "keep those searches slightly less sexy," says Matt Donnelly at the L.A. Times. Both President Barack Obama and Sarah Palin were among the safest people to search for online. 

Sources: McAfee, MSNBC, The Wrap, Network World, L.A.Times, PC World

 

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