McAfee: Brad Pitt fan sites may be bad for your computer

Computer security company lists the celebrities whose names are used most often to dupe Web surfers onto visiting sites with malicious content.

Want to download a Brad Pitt screen saver? What about images of Beyonce? If you're using a site you're not familiar with, you may want to reconsider.

According to McAfee's new "riskiest celebrities in cyberspace" list, when searching for "Brad Pitt," "Brad Pitt downloads," or Brad Pitt wallpaper, screen savers, and pictures, Internet users experience an 18 percent chance of stumbling upon sites containing malicious code. This includes drive-by malware that can infect your PC without asking you to download anything. Such social engineering, once reserved for e-mail, is now being used to populate search results with fake sites for these personalities.

Pitt in Ocean's 12
After reading McAfee's list, we were careful to download this shot of Brad Pitt from Warner Bros.' official Ocean's 12 movie site. Warner Bros.

One site advertising Angelina Jolie downloads, for example, contained 978 hidden malware-infected wallpaper and photo downloads, said McAfee. A site dedicated to Jessica Alba linked to other bad sites, contained misleading offers to gather information and produced a high number of spam e-mails when an e-mail address was provided.

This is the second year McAfee has compiled the list. The information comes from its Site Advisor technology, which analyzes Web sites and ranks them as either safe for viewing or suspected of containing malicious content.

Topping the list for male celebrities are Pitt and Justin Timberlake, while Beyoncé and Heidi Montag lead the women celebrities used.

The complete list

  1. Brad Pitt
  2. Beyoncé
  3. Justin Timberlake
  4. Heidi Montag
  5. Mariah Carey
  6. Jessica Alba
  7. Lindsay Lohan
  8. Cameron Diaz
  9. George Clooney
  10. Rihanna
  11. Angelina Jolie
  12. Fergie
  13. David Beckham
  14. Katie Holmes
  15. Katherine Heigl
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Security
About the author

    As CNET's former resident security expert, Robert Vamosi has been interviewed on the BBC, CNN, MSNBC, and other outlets to share his knowledge about the latest online threats and to offer advice on personal and corporate security.

     

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