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Celebrity search results loaded with malware, study shows

Intel security says employees and consumers should be aware that cyber criminals capitalise on interest in celebrities by enticing internet users to sites laden with malware

The results of searches relating to breaking news events and celebrities continue to be loaded with malware, a study has revealed.

Model and TV personality Kelly Brook is the most dangerous celebrity to search online, according to Intel Security’s ninth annual survey of risky search topics.

Brook is followed by Katie Price, X Factor judges Nick Grimshaw and Rita Ora, and Victoria Beckham as the most dangerous search topics in the UK.

Completing the top 10 most dangerous celebrities for 2015 are Kate Middleton, Idris Elba, Frank Lampard, Jeremy Clarkson and Tom Hardy.

The most dangerous celebrities are a mix of musical artists, TV personalities, actors and models, with Cara Delevigne and Kate Moss also featuring in the top 20, ranking 14th and 15th respectively.

According to Intel Security, cyber criminals are always looking for ways to take advantage of interest around popular culture events including talent shows, movie premieres, album releases and celebrity break-ups.

Intel security said employees and consumers should be aware that cyber criminals capitalise on this interest by enticing internet users to sites laden with malware.

The latest study showed that searches for downloads of free music and films are also extremely risky.

According to Intel Security, employees and consumers should:

  • Beware of clicking on third-party links and access content only directly from official websites of content providers.
  • Use web protection designed to alert users of risky sites or links.
  • Visit only trusted news sites avoid downloading videos from suspect sites.
  • Use a safe search tool that will notify users of risky sites or links.
  • Use caution when searching for “HD downloads” which is the highest virus-prone search term.
  • Always use password protection on all mobile devices.
  • Not provide any personal details to third-party websites.

“Most people are unaware of the potential risks they are exposing themselves to by clicking on sites that provide them with the latest news and entertainment,” said Intel Security consumer, mobile and small business vice-president, Nick Viney.

“But cyber criminals are quick to exploit this desire for breaking celebrity news, leading internet users to sites that download harmful malware onto devices and steal their private data.”

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