According to McAfee, Emma Watson has replaced Heidi Klum as the most dangerous celebrity to search for on the Web. In a statement of the blindingly obvious, McAfee say:
“Cybercriminals often use the names of popular celebrities to tempt viewers to visit websites that are actually laden with malicious software.” Next they’ll be saying that searching for adult material is a quick way to get infected by a virus…
Amongst the top 10 ‘most dangerous’ celebrities are the usual suspects such as Jessica Biel, Megan Fox and Cameron Diaz – perhaps unsurprisingly, all of the top 10 are female. McAfee tested with their own SiteAdvisor site ratings and found that:
“Searches for the latest Emma Watson pictures and free downloads have more than a 12% chance to land on a malicious site that has tested positive for spyware, adware, spam, phishing, viruses or other malicious stuff”.
Purely in the interests of research, we decided to search for pictures and screensavers of Emma and her babelicious chums to check if they really are the
babe virus magnets that McAfee suggest. That’s right, we had to wade through acres of the seediest fleshpots on the internet – just so that you don’t have to, we’re nice like that
How We Tested
- We used WOT (Web of Trust – see our review here) rather than McAfee’s own SiteAdvisor – WOT is our recommended safe searching software and makes our test more independent.
- We checked the top 100 Google.com web search results to see how many were safe or dangerous – we classified amber rated warnings from WOT to be the same as red warnings because both are potentially malicious and therefore best avoided.
“Emma Watson screensavers” – 17 out of 100 websites were dangerous. 17% is worrying for fans of Ms Watson but how much of that is because screensavers of all types are notorious for containing malware? We checked again just looking for general screensavers:
“Screensavers” – 28 out of 100 websites were dangerous. Take note if you regularly download screensavers! It would appear that Emma is actually less risky than general screensavers.
But what about supposedly less risky celebs like Cameron Diaz – a ‘winner’ two years ago but now only number 8 in the most dangerous list?
“Cameron Diaz screensavers” – 29 out of 100 websites were dangerous. Much higher than Emma and about the same as screensavers in general.
“Emma Watson videos” – 0 out of 100 websites were dangerous. A tribute to the safety of YouTube and the hordes of blogs linking into YouTube content?
“Cameron Diaz videos” – 3 out of 100 websites were dangerous. Again, more risky than Emma.
Purely in the interests of balance – Cameron from ‘Bad Teacher’:
“Emma Watson photos” and ”Cameron Diaz photos” – 0 out of 100 websites were dangerous. This may be due to the top 100 search results being dominated by reputable/major news, gossip, TV and film websites.
Google Images Search
All the above tests were performed using standard Google.com web searches so we decided to test Google Images (SafeSearch: moderate) to see if there was any difference:
“Emma Watson videos” – 1 out of 100 links was dangerous.
“Cameron Diaz videos” – 5 out of 100 links were dangerous, more than Emma again.
Some people maintain that adult sites have cleaned up their act and are no longer hotbeds of malicious content. To see if this is true we set Google SafeSearch to ‘Off’ and repeated the searches – but this time we added ‘nude’ to the search criteria.
It didn’t surprise us at all that the dangerous links increased to more than 20 out of 100 for each celeb. As we’ve said before, if you go looking for adult material, be prepared to encounter malicious content…
Not sure how McAfee arrived at their figure of 12% risk for Emma Watson – her results in our categories were 17%, 0%, 0% and 1%. We found Cameron Diaz to be a far more risky proposition…
Screensaver and sites with adult content were the worst offenders – even looking for generic screensavers resulted in a whopping 28% risk.
Some of this article has been tongue in cheek but there is a serious conclusion:
If you are not yet using good safe searching software like Web Of Trust, you are leaving yourself vulnerable to attack from malicious websites – there is no other way of knowing in advance which websites in a long list of search results might be dangerous.
Antivirus software may block malware on a dangerous website – but it may not (no antivirus software is ever 100% effective) – the best way to avoid being infected by a virus is to avoid encountering dangerous websites in the first place.
[Emma pic - via Joella Marano]