Jessica Biel Could Give You a (PC) Virus

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Quick, someone tell Justin Timberlake that his girlfriend Jessica Biel is dangerous -- in cyberspace.

The latest annual report from security company McAfee found that Biel is the biggest draw on the Internet for spyware, adware, malware, spam, phishing, and viruses. Search for her name online, and there's a one in five chance you'll catch something nasty.

This is the third year in a row McAfee has put together this list. In 2008, actor Brad Pitt took the dubious distinction of first place, with the same 20 percent chance of danger. He's since moved down the list to tenth place.

Meanwhile, singer and actress Beyonce held the number two spot for the second year in a row, making her the most common celebrity to appear in the top five. Other notable finds from McAfee include a 40 percent chance of getting a virus when searching for "Jennifer Aniston Screensavers" and links to red flagged sites when searching for "Gisele Bundchen Photos." Searching for Bundchen's husband, football star Tom Brady, can yield video downloads containing trojans.

Of course, the report itself is a lure for purchasing one of McAfee's products, all of which include SiteAdvisor technology to rank a site before it's even accessed. SiteAdvisor can also be downloaded for free as a standalone application.

Celebrity obsession turns Web surfers into easy targets. As pointed out last year by Techworld's John E. Dunn, the method of attacking people looking for celebrity ringtones, screensavers, pictures, and video hasn't really changed over the years, even as other virus and malware attacks get more sophisticated.

It's not just random Web sites, either. Earlier this year, fake celebrity profiles began appearing on the business networking site LinkedIn, with links to sites containing malware code.

In general, malware and virus distributors feed on whatever's likely to get the most attention. That's why earlier this year, we saw Swine Flu spam, and Virginia Tech shooting-related Trojans before that, preceded by Hurricane Katrina scams and a SARS e-mail worm. But unlike those issues, which cause only a spike in interest, our thirst for all things Jessica Biel, Beyonce, and Brad Pitt is never going away.

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