Cameron Diaz ranked most dangerous Web celeb: study

NEW YORK (Reuters) - She may be known for her playful giggles and killer looks, but now movie star Cameron Diaz has become the most dangerous celebrity on the Internet.

Diaz, 37, is top of the list of the most dangerous celebrities to search for online, above second-placed Julia Roberts, according to computer security company McAfee, Inc. Last year’s most dangerous Web celebrity, Jessica Biel, fell to third.

One in ten websites featuring the “Knight and Day” star contain malicious software intended to infect computers and steal data from users, according to research released on Thursday by McAfee.

Creators of malicious software use celebrities as lures, baiting fans and followers to click on and download seemingly innocuous content containing programs designed to steal passwords and other private information for profit, said Dave Marcus, director of security research at McAfee Labs.

“They know that people want to have screensavers of popular individuals. They follow hot topics on the Web and create their poisonous content accordingly,” Marcus said.

“This relates to a larger trend of using social engineering lures. A lot of times a cyber criminal will mine Twitter, or follow Google Trends, to poison those links. It’s very clear they will use news trends to lure,” he said.

Supermodel Gisele Bundchen came in at fourth, followed by Brad Pitt, one of only two men to be listed in the top ten.

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“Brad Pitt is historically one of the most dangerous celebrities to search on,” said Marcus. “He’s always up there.”

Former Victoria’s Secret model Adriana Lima came in sixth, followed by Jennifer Love-Hewitt and Nicole Kidman, who tied for seventh. Tom Cruise ranked eighth, and Heidi Klum and Penelope Cruz tied for ninth. Anna Paquin, the star of TV hit “True Blood”, rounded out the top ten.

This is the fourth time McAfee published the annual list of dangerous individuals.

Marcus said he’s seeing the same types of malicious software being distributed, but in higher numbers. “We tracked more malware in the second quarter of 2010 than ever before,” Marcus said.

McAfee found 6 million unique, newly created pieces of malicious programing. “That’s about 60,000 pieces per day. It’s a big, honkin, onerous number,” he said.

The study used McAfee’s SiteAdvisor ratings to track risky sources of celebrity content on the Web, and used these results to calculate an overall risk percentage.