Intel Security warns don’t open that email about Armin van Buuren and other ‘dangerous’ celebrities

armin van buuren
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Being a DJ seems like a pretty awesome gig if you can get it. A small handful of DJs manage to elevate themselves from the masses to achieve global superstar status—and the attention of malware developers. Just ask Armin van Buuren. He tops the 9th annual Intel Security Most Dangerous Celebrities list.

Intel Security explains the risks associated with Armin van Buuren online. “So, how dangerous is it exactly to search for the trance music legend? To be precise, searching for van Buuren presents a 17.92 percent [chance] of running into online threats — if a user clicked all the results generated by the search terms. That’s nearly a 1 in 5 chance of landing on a site that has ‘malicious’ written all over it.”

Intel Security conducted the study using SiteAdvisor site ratings from McAfee WebAdvisor to determine the number of risky sites generated in search results that include a celebrity name along with other commonly used search terms. That data is used to calculate the overall risk percentage for the celebrity.

Van Buuren poses the greatest risk, but he isn’t the only one you need to watch out for. Armin van Buuren tops a list that includes Luke Bryan, Usher, Britney Spears, Jay Z, Katy Perry, Amy Schumer, Betty White, Lorde, and Nina Dobrev. All ten of the celebrities on the Intel Security Most Dangerous Celebrities list have a greater than 1-in-10 chance of yielding malicious results online such as spyware, adware, spam, phishing scams, viruses, and other exploits.

In many cases it is not the celebrity name alone that poses the risk. It’s a combination of terms like “free MP3” or “torrent” that cybercriminals use as bait to attract victims. Intel Security cautions, “In the case of our No. 1 Most Dangerous Celebrity, search terms like “HD download “and “torrent” combined with “Armin van Buuren” are hotbeds for hacker hoaxes.”

What can you do? Well, for starters it seems like you should probably buy your music and movies from legitimate sites or services rather than trying to scam them for free online. If you’re scouring the Internet trying to find pirated music or movies for free you aren’t going to get much sympathy when your illegal content comes with a side of malware.

Intel Security suggests you use its security tools like McAfee WebAdvisor and McAfee LiveSafe. It also provides some general guidance anyone can benefit from no matter what security software you choose:

  • Only download from verified sites. Don’t download anything from a website you don’t trust. If it looks suspicious, your hunch about its legitimacy is probably right. Access content directly from reputable sources, such as Apple Music and Google Play Music.
  • Be strict when sharing your personal information. If you receive a message from an unknown website asking for your log-in, or requesting other personal information, about face. Cybercriminals often pose as legitimate companies to scoop up your sensitive information via email, text, or other methods of communication. Be wary of these phishing tactics to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft.

This annual list from Intel Security is always interesting. It highlights a broader trend common among cybercriminals to leverage popular search terms and breaking news as a means of luring victims to click on links or open files. Make sure you exercise cautious skepticism online and don’t let your curiosity—or frugality—lead to getting infected or compromised.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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