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What do Rory Gilmore, Sansa Stark, a late-night talk show host and a rapper have in common? Not much on the surface, but according to internet security software company McAfee, they’re all some of the most dangerous celebrities on the internet.
McAfee’s 2019 Most Dangerous Celebrities list named actress Alexis Bledel — best known for playing Rory in Gilmore Girls, Lena in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and, more recently, Ofglen in The Handmaid’s Tale — as the most dangerous celebrity.
What makes bookworm Rory Gilmore so dangerous? Bledel’s rising stardom has made her a target of cybercriminals creating malicious search results.
Others on the list include James Corden, Sophie Turner, Anna Kendrick, Lupita Nyong’o, Jimmy Fallon, Jackie Chan, Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj and Tessa Thompson.
Why are cybercriminals targeting celebrities?
In short, they’re popular, easy targets with a lot of search queries every day. Cybercriminals know we’re curious. Online users looking up what Alexis has been up to since Gilmore Girls or trying to find Jimmy Fallon’s latest skit may inadvertently find themselves on a site with malware or viruses that then infect and harm their computers and devices.
Additionally, McAfee found that a number of searches for actors and actresses, in particular, were coupled with the word “torrent,” indicating that online users may be trying to find a way to stream Game of Thrones or The Handmaid’s Tale without paying for Hulu or HBO.
“Consumers may not be fully aware that the searches they conduct pose risk, nor may they understand the detrimental effects that can occur when personal information is compromised in exchange for access to their favorite celebrities, movies, TV shows or music,” Gary Davis, chief consumer security evangelist at McAfee, said in a statement.
So, how can you stay safe online?
Staying safe online means putting a few best practices in place when you or anyone else in your family is browsing the internet. Some things to consider:
- Don’t just click on anything: As McAfee said: “Think before you click.” Look for reliable sources, check to see if there’s an https in the URL and be cautious of downloading anything from third-party sites.
- Set up parental controls if you have young kids: One of the best ways to keep you and your family safe online is to set up parental controls, especially if you have young kids. It’s important to teach children proper online usage so it becomes a habit.
- Scrutinize all email attachments: If you get an email or social message from a friend saying “You just have to see what Nicki Minaj did now,” maybe be a little wary. Email attachments are a great way for cybercriminals to drop malware on your device.
- Don’t pirate your content: The best things in life are free… until you get a computer virus that erases all of your documents and compromises all your personal information. Listen, just don’t pirate your content. One, it’s illegal. And two, it can really make a mess of things.
- Secure your entire network: Using a firewall or antivirus software can help block potential threats and alert you of any sites that may be unsafe. Additionally, new software is able to detect and isolate a threat onto just one device vs. spreading it to your entire network.
As tempting as it may be to score the latest episode or that hot new track from your favorite celebrity for free, it may not be worth it in the end. When in doubt, don’t click.