Entertainment Security

Can Your Favorite Celebrities Infect You With Malware?

Dann Albright 16-11-2016

Searching for your favorite celebrities Top 10 Most Popular Accounts on Twitter: Should You Follow Them Too? Ever wondered who the most popular users on Twitter are? Let's see what Twitter accounts are the top 10 most popular, and whether you should follow them. Read More seems innocent enough — you want to see what Taylor Swift is up to, or read Cristiano Ronaldo’s latest tweets, or find out when Amy Adams’ next movie comes out. But online delinquents can use your interest in celebs to target you with malware.


In fact, this type of targeting is so common that McAfee has released a Most Dangerous Celebrities list for the last ten years. Here’s this year’s list, as well a number of ways to stay safe when checking up on your favorite stars.

The 2016 Most Dangerous Celebrities List

According to McAfee, these are the most dangerous celebrities to search for:

Dangerous Celebrities

What exactly does this list mean? McAfee says it looks at which celebrities’ names “generate the most dangerous search results that could expose fans to viruses and malware.” So in short, if you’re searching for Amy Schumer, Justin Bieber, Carson Daly, or anyone else on this list, there’s a good chance one of the results you’ll see could be laden with malware.

McAfee searched for “[celebrity’s name] + Torrent,” “[celebrity’s name] + Free MP4,” and “[celebrity’s name] + HD download” and analyzed the results to see which were likely to be malicious, then ranked each celebrity. Unsurprisingly, searching for torrents Top 10 Free Torrent Alternatives to The Pirate Bay The Pirate Bay is a shadow of its former self. Head to these sites for some of the best Pirate Bay alternatives for free torrents. Read More is the most dangerous. McAfee says a search for “Amy Schumer torrent” gives users a 33% of connecting to a malicious website. That’s really bad.


Even if you’re not looking for a torrent, though, it’s a good idea to be careful when you’re looking up celebrities. Here are five things you can do to stay safe.

Double-Check Links Before Clicking

When you see a search result for the celebrity you’re looking for, look carefully at the link URL 7 Quick Sites That Let You Check If a Link Is Safe Before clicking a link, use these link checkers to check that it doesn't lead to malware or other security threats. Read More before clicking it. If it doesn’t seem to match the title of the search result, or anything else seems off, don’t click it. This applies no matter what you’re looking for, whether it’s celebrity gossip or a pirated download.

Amy Schumer Torrent URL

Of course, torrents are inherently risky Why Safe Torrenting Died With The Pirate Bay As far as "popular" torrenting is concerned, the comparative safety that existed at The Pirate Bay is gone, and safe torrent downloads with it. Read More , because you never know exactly what you’re downloading. So even if you do find something that looks legit, you’re taking a risk. It’s a good idea to use a VPN when you’re torrenting, and to make sure you have an up-to-date antivirus suite up and running.


The first step in protecting yourself, though, no matter which safeties you have in place, is to not click suspicious-looking links. It’s simple, but it’s easy to skip and can make a huge difference.

Be Careful Downloading Files

Peer-to-peer file sharing How P2P (Peer to Peer) File Sharing Works Wondering what peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing is and how it got started? We explain what you should know. Read More , while in many cases illegal, certainly is convenient. And a lot of people take advantage of it to get their fixes of celebrity actors, actresses, and comedians. Even if you protect yourself with a VPN and adequate antivirus, it’s still not a good idea to download files.

Viruses and malware can be hidden in audio and video files. Downloaded software can be disguised as media files. Online miscreants are creative and will find a way to compromise almost any downloadable file. To be safe, just don’t do it. Streaming stuff online isn’t risk-free either, but it’s definitely safer than downloading.

Don’t Give Out Personal Information

Some phishing sites are very convincing, and scammers will take advantage of the fact that you’re looking for your favorite celebrities to get you to give away valuable information 10 Pieces of Information That Are Used to Steal Your Identity Identity theft can be costly. Here are the 10 pieces of information you need to protect so your identity isn't stolen. Read More . For example, if you click on a link that promises an HD download of Rihanna’s latest single, you could be prompted for your email address and phone number.


You might not think anything of it, and just go back to Google when you discover that your information didn’t unlock the download you wanted. But now you’ve given away two valuable pieces of information to a potential attacker.

Don’t give away any personal information in exchange for torrents, downloads, or access to “exclusive information.” You probably won’t get what you’re expecting, and you may be compromising your security in the process.

Use Official Sources

Getting videos, audio clips, and news from reputable sites is always going to be better than trying to find a way to download them. Aziz Ansari’s Buried Alive, for example, can be streamed on Netflix, and you can be reasonably confident you aren’t incurring any risk in doing that. If you decide to torrent it, though, you may be opening yourself to an attack or scam.

Aziz Ansari Netflix


YouTube is a great place to watch comedians and actors. Comedy Central posts full episodes of Trevor Noah’s nightly show. People posts all sorts of celebrity gossip. There are lots of sources for getting your celeb fix that are unlikely to hit you with a virus or malware.

Keep Your Antivirus Up-to-Date

You’re probably tired of hearing this by now, but there are still a lot of people out there who aren’t using a suitable antivirus app — if the last few years are any indication, there’s a good chance that 15% or more of users have no antivirus protection. So we’ll say it again.

Download an antivirus app. Now. There are plenty of free options Free Anti-Virus Comparison: 5 Popular Choices Go Toe-To-Toe What is the best free antivirus? This is among the most common questions we receive at MakeUseOf. People want to be protected, but they don’t want to have to pay a yearly fee or use... Read More for whatever operating system you use. You can find one that doesn’t use up a ton of system resources. No matter which one you use, it will help keep your computer safer. And keep it up to date. It’s easy to ignore update notifications, but if you allow the app to automatically download updates, you won’t have to worry about it.

Be Safe

As always, we urge you to use some common sense 7 Common Sense Tips to Help You Avoid Catching Malware The Internet has made a lot possible. Accessing information and communicating with people from far away has become a breeze. At the same time, however, our curiosity can quickly lead us down dark virtual alleys... Read More when it comes to your security. Don’t click suspicious links, don’t download things from unverified sources, use antivirus. It’s all pretty basic, but it’s also good to know that you could be targeted because you follow celebrities.

Do you search for and torrent your favorite celebrities? Have you ever clicked on a suspicious link doing so? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Related topics: Online Privacy, Online Security.

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