Jessica Biel is the most dangerous name in cyberspace

Opinion by draywood

A report this week from McAfee revealed that Jessica Biel has overtaken Brad Pitt as the most dangerous celebrity to search in cyberspace.


A report this week from McAfee revealed that Jessica Biel has overtaken Brad Pitt as the most dangerous celebrity to search in cyberspace.

It claimed that fans searching for ‘Jessica Biel' or downloads, screensavers, wallpaper, photos or videos have a one in five chance of landing at a website that has tested positive for online threats.

Also on its top ten were Beyoncé Knowles, whose film ‘Obsessed' was recently revealed by SC to be the subject of a malicious video player being directed by Digg, while ‘Friends' actress Jennifer Aniston, American Footballer Tom Brady and singer/actress Jessica Simpson make up the top five.

Perhaps surprisingly, the Obamas were not among the most risky public figures to search, with both ranking in the bottom-third of this year's results, with the President at 34 and the first lady at 39.

Jeff Green, senior vice president of McAfee Avert Labs, said: "Cybercriminals are star watchers too - they latch onto popular celebrities to encourage the download of malicious software in disguise. Consumers' obsession with celebrity news and culture is harmless in theory, but one bad download can cause a lot of damage to a computer."

David Harley, director of malware intelligence at ESET, said: "I feel like the learned judge in the '60s who asked, in the course of a trial, ‘What is a Beatle?' since until recently I couldn't have given you an accurate answer to the question ‘What is a Jessica Biel?'

"In fact, I'd probably have said something like ‘Wasn't she in Flashdance?' (The answer is no: she would apparently have been a baby when I saw Jennifer Beals in that film, back in the days when I had a social life.) Clearly, I need to do something about my work/life balance, and the fact that I now only ever see movies on television or on planes."

I'm afraid I am going to have to agree with David here, a Wikipedia search is required for me to find that she has ‘starred' in such masterpieces as ‘I now pronounce you Chuck and Larry', ‘The Illusionist' and the remake of ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre'.

However Harley went on to point out a certain irony. He said: "The media and the blogosphere have picked up so readily on McAfee's latest report, based on statistics from their SiteAdvisor site rating database.

"Well, celebrity stories are not only the stock-in-trade of many journalists and a major preoccupation of much of their readership (clearly there's a correlation between those two factors!) but also a favoured target among spammers, scammers and purveyors of malware, who are always ready to use a topical story (real, fabricated, important or trivial) as social engineering bait in order to spread Badness.

"Why is it ironic? Because even while they're pointing to the dangers of celebrity hunting on the ‘net, they are, to some extent, perpetuating it. Of course, it's a good thing if more people become aware of the dangers that malicious search engine optimisation poses, and I don't blame McAfee for using the ‘cult of celebrity' to make that point, but it's a pity that the media is focused on that narrow aspect of a much wider problem."

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