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Emma Watson tops list of most dangerous celebrities

September 10, 2012|By Dawn C. Chmielewski
  • Emma Watson, a cast member in "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," poses for a portrait at the 2012 Toronto Film Festival. She tops McAfee's 2012 list of dangerous cyber celebrities.
Emma Watson, a cast member in "The Perks of Being a Wallflower,"… (Photo by Chris Pizzello…)

Be careful with that link promising provocative photos of actress Emma Watson -- it could be a lure for digitally transmitted diseases.

The actress best known for her role as Hermione Granger in the "Harry Potter" film series replaced supermodel Heidi Klum atop McAfee's 2012 list of "most dangerous celebrities" to search online. Fans who query "Emma Watson and nude pictures" or "Emma Watson and busted" run a 1-in-8 chance of landing on a site that has tested positive for viruses and other malicious software, according to the security technology company.

"It goes without saying that we are a celebrity-obsessed culture. We hyper-focus on their lives, what they look like, what they're doing," said Robert Siciliano, McAfee’s online security expert. "Currently Emma Watson is one of those people that criminals have determined is a good target, based on the demographics of those who pay attention to her."

Cybercriminals use the names of popular celebrities to lure people to sites that contain malicious software used to steal passwords and personal information. Siciliano said criminals know that they can dupe a teen-age boy to click on a link that infects the family's computer -- potentially giving them access to, say, a parent's tax files that contain social security numbers.

"It’s a really a brilliant scam -- and it's so simple," Siciliano said. "Hackers set up the websites, they use ... search engine optimization to get the websites high up in search [rankings]. And once they get them high up in search, lace it with links and downloads that are infected."

Female stars dominate the list of actresses, musicians and supermodels used to dupe the unsuspecting.  Late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel was the only guy to make McAfee's "most dangerous" list -- weighing in at No. 13, edging out CNN anchor Piers Morgan and actor Brad Pitt.

Filling out the top 10 list, in order, are Watson, actress Jessica Biel ("Total Recall"), actress Eva Mendes ("2 Fast 2 Furious"), musician and actress Selena Gomez ("Wizards of Waverly Place"), Academy Award-winning actress Halle Berry ("Cloud Atlas"), actress Megan Fox ("Transformers"), singer-songwriter Shakira, actress Cameron Diaz ("Bad Teacher") actress/director Salma Hayek ("Frida") and actress Sofia Vergara ("Modern Family").

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