Application security, Incident Response, Malware, Phishing, TDR

Brad Pitt, Beyonce, most exploited stars in cyberspace

It might be time to stick to the gossip rags for celebrity news and photos. That's because a simple internet search for some of Hollywood's A-listers could easily end with users landing on malware-laden websites or phishing pages, according to the latest research from McAfee.

For the second year, the anti-virus firm has published its list of the most dangerous celebrities in cyberspace.

Topping the list are Brad Pitt, Beyonce and Justin Timberlake. (Pitt's wife, Angelina Jolie, came in in 11th).

According to McAfee, a search for "Brad Pitt," "Brad Pitt downloads," or screen savers, wallpaper or pictures featuring the "Ocean's Thirteen" star puts users at a nearly one-in-five risk "of having their PCs infected with online threats, such as spyware, spam, phishing, adware, viruses and other malware."

Opportunists are creating legitimate-looking websites in hopes of luring fans to their malicious sites, McAfee said Tuesday.

Pseudo-reality "The Hills" star Heidi Montag and singer Mariah Carey round out the top five.

Notable deletions from this year's list are Paris Hilton, who was No. 1 last year, and Britney Spears, who came it at No. 4 in 2007.

But there are plenty of other stars to fill the void for crooks.

"Cybercriminals employ numerous methods, yet one of the simplest but most effective ways is to trick consumers into infecting themselves by capitalizing on Americans' interest in celebrity gossip," Jeff Green, senior vice president of McAfee Avert Labs and product development.

He encouraged users to be on the lookout for sites that appear benign but are out to infect users or steal their information.

A number of the most popular search engines, including Google and Yahoo, flag known harmful websites in their search results.

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