Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013 | 3:27 p.m.
Doe-eyed actress Lily Collins may look innocent enough, but the “Mortal Instruments” star is causing big trouble — on fans’ hard drives, at least.
Collins has topped McAfee’s list of the Most Dangerous Cyber Celebrities, replacing Emma Watson in the No. 1 spot on the cyber security company’s annual ranking of actors, models, musicians and other celebrities who pose the greatest risk to Web users, their popularity used to trick fans into clicking bad links and downloading viruses, spam and other malicious content.
According to the McAfee report, now in its seventh year, fans searching for "Lily Collins and free downloads," "Lily Collins and nude pictures," "Lily Collins and fakes" and "Lily Collins and free app downloads" face the greatest risk of encountering malware-laden websites designed to steal usernames, passwords and other personal information.
Avril Lavigne, who has been building buzz around her new album due out this fall, took the No. 2 spot on the list. McAfee found that musicians, particularly female pop stars, are among the most popular choices for cybercriminals to embed malicious software, with Lavigne, Katy Perry and Britney Spears landing in the Top 10, and a total of 17 artists ranking in the Top 50.
Miley Cyrus placed at No. 20, which McAfee credits in part to a recent Facebook hoax claiming the singer had committed suicide after her controversial MTV Video Music Awards performance in August (the video behind the hoax linked to malware).
Sandra Bullock, whose highly anticipated film “Gravity” is out next month, took third place. “Mad Men” star Jon Hamm was the only male to crack the Top 10, placing eighth.
"Today's consumers often are completely unaware of security risks when searching for celebrity and entertainment news, images and videos online, sacrificing safety for immediacy," McAfee Director of Web Security Research Paula Greve said in a statement. "Cybercriminals prey on consumers' addiction to breaking news and leverage this behavior to lead them to unsafe sites that can severely infect their computers and devices and steal personal data."
McAfee advises fans to avoid websites that prompt users to download anything before accessing content and to beware of sites that ask users for logins or other personal information for access to an “exclusive story.” It also encourages fans to stick to established news sites for breaking news as a way to avoid hackers.
The Top 10 list of McAfee’s Most Dangerous Cyber Celebrities for 2013:
1. Lily Collins
2. Avril Lavigne
3. Sandra Bullock
4. Kathy Griffin
5. Zoe Saldana
6. Katy Perry
7. Britney Spears
8. Jon Hamm
9. Adriana Lima
10. Emma Roberts