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Nearly one of every five online searches for “Jimmy Kimmel” can lead Internet surfers to websites where identity thieves and other nefarious types lurk, according to McAfee, a software unit of Intel Security.
McAfee on Wednesday released its “Most Dangerous Cyber Celebrity” list of 2014, and Kimmel was No. 1, followed by Armin van Buuren, a popular Dutch DJ and music producer.
Rounding out the Top 10 were Ciara, Flo Rida, Bruce Springsteen, Blake Shelton, Britney Spears, Jon Bon Jovi, Chelsea Handler and Christina Aguilera.
The host of Jimmy Kimmel Live! supplanted Mirror, Mirror actress Lily Collins, who was last year’s Most Dangerous Celebrity.
And the entire Kardashian clan, including Kourtney, Kim, Khloe, Kris Jenner and Kanye West, all of whom were high on the list last year, fell precipitously this time around. McAfee noted that the decline of the Kardashians coincided with the rise of rap mogul Jay Z and Jersey Shore star JWoww.
Another trend is a rise in the number of country and electronic dance music stars who represent online danger to Internet surfers, including Carrie Underwood and Calvin Harris.
In its research, McAfee says it conducted searches that simply consisted of a celebrity name, then other searches that paired the name with words like “downloads,” “mp4” and “torrentz.”
The searches oftentimes — in the case of Kimmel, it was 19.38 percent — led to sites where the downloading of photos, videos or anything else posed a distinct threat. Sometimes the sites were laden with spyware, adware, spam and viruses, while other times providing any sort of log-in information was a ploy leading to identity theft.
“Celebrity names coupled with the terms ‘video’ and ‘picture’ are some of the most-searched terms on the Internet. Cybercriminals exploit consumers’ need to be updated on celebrity news,” said Michelle Dennedy, chief privacy officer for McAfee.
Experts say consumers ought to be especially careful in light of a scandal involving nude photos of celebrities being leaked online. “When it comes to hackers and identity thieves, we are all celebrities because our precious personal information is a hot commodity on the black market,” says Adam Levin, founder of Identity Theft 911 and a security and privacy expert for McAfee’s Tweet Chat series #SecChat.
Levin says consumers in need of celebrity news and pictures can protect themselves by avoiding emailed links and, if you must create a user ID and password to gain access to a site, make them different from the ones used elsewhere.
“With the celebrity nude hack, it was a brute force attack on user names and passwords that was the culprit,” he said.
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