Webeden Blog Archive How searching for celebrities can be bad for your PC

How searching for celebrities can be bad for your PC

4 Replies


You just finished a hard bit of work so you fancy some down time.  You saw a film last week, who was that actress in it? Oh yeah, it was Jessica Biel. You want to find a bit more about her. Since you’re sitting at your computer, you open up a Google and search for ‘Jessica Biel’.

You get a whole page full of results – nothing unusual about that, she’s a big celebrity. You scan past the first one (who clicks just the top link? – not you, you’re an Internet pro!) until you find a link that seems to offer what you’re looking for.

You click the link. And your PC falls into a hackers hands.

How did that happen?

Well according to some research published by McAfee last week, Hackers will build a website with the purpose of infecting your PC with a virus. They will then optimise that website around popular search terms, to try and boost it high in the rankings for that search term. Celebrity names are very popular to do this with, since they have a very high search volume and they are also used by less discerning searchers. And the celebrity that this year tops the list of most exploited search terms is Jessica Biel.

Apparently there is a 20% chance that a search for Jessica Biel will result in you landing on a website that has been set up by a hacker for this very purpose.

The hacker will charge the website up with every kind of virus, including spyware, trojans, spam and phishing tools, in the hope of infecting your PC.

Each year, the celebrity most exploited changes. Last year it was Brad Pitt. Other celebrities in the list this year include Beyonce, Jennifer Aniston, Tom Brady, Jessica Simpson, Gisele Bundchen, Miley Cyrus, Megan Fox, Angelina Jolie, and Ashley Tisdale.

Still interested in those celebrities? Leave us a comment below.

  • http://www.alisoncross4webs.co.uk Alison Cross

    So – how can we protect ourselves then? Does McAfee, AVG, Norton et al not protect us from this type of behaviour?


  • admin

    Hi Alison,

    You can help yourself alot with McAfee and AVG.

    They both have similar products for search results.

    McAfee have a program called SiteAdvisor which when activated appears next to search results with a Green Tick if the site is ok and a Red Cross if the site is considered dangerous.

    AVG have the same functionality with LinkScanner.

    I hope that helps.


  • http://www.wbra.co.uk Theresa

    What an interesting piece of info, excellent work webeden, I would think that a large amount of people wouldn’t even know this.. What is the best spyware etc package available in your opinion.

    ps don’t do celebrity anyway, there only people after all.

  • admin

    Thanks Theresa.

    Its definitely worth having a look at the SiteAdvisor – they can tell you if there are any issues with the website before you actually visit it.

    Bare in mind though it can slightly slow your browser. Have a go and let us know when you prefer?

    And thanks for the feedback.

    I personally shan’t do celebrity until I am one ;-)