Cheryl Cole has the hack factor: Top 10 most dangerous online searches

Cheryl Cole is the most dangerous celebrity to search for online, according to a cybercrime study.

The eighth annual McAfee Most Dangerous Celebrities study revealed that an eclectic mix of music and entertainers, when searched for online, are putting consumers at risk.

The ‘Crazy Stupid Love’ singer topped the polls to beat the likes of One Direction, David Beckham and even Harry Potter, as Daniel Radcliffe took second place.

Staying up to date with the latest celebrity gossip is an important part of many people’s daily life. But cybercriminals are constantly looking for ways to take advantage and capitalise on the public’s fascination with celebrities to steal personal data.

“The desire for consumers to have access to the latest celebrity information can often make them vulnerable to cybercrime,” said Samantha Humphries-Swift, product manager at McAfee Labs. “Most consumers do not realise the security risks they are exposing themselves to when searching for celebrity videos and images online.

“But cybercriminals can exploit this desire for breaking celebrity news, leading consumers to sites that download harmful malware onto their devices and compromise personal data.”

The risk factor

Celebrity names coupled with ‘video’ or ‘picture’ are some of the most searched terms on the Internet.

McAfee’s study revealed that fans in the UK using search terms such as “Cheryl Cole downloads” and “Cheryl Cole mp4s” have a 15% chance of landing on a website that has tested positive for online threats, such as spyware, adware, spam, phishing, viruses and malware.

But since her marriage to Jean-Fernandez-Versini this summer, could her new surname make the former Mrs Cole a little safer online?

It’s not just Cheryl fans putting themselves at risk, ‘Potheads’ and ‘One Directioners’ could also find themselves victims of cybercrime.

With all five members of one of the biggest boy bands on the planet making an appearance in McAfee’s list of top 20 Most Dangerous Celebrities in the UK, fans should think twice before downloading the latest video of Harry Styles doing the Ice Bucket Challenge.

>See also: Cyber security guide to the 10 most disruptive enterprise technologies

Using McAfee SiteAdvisor site ratings, the study indicated which sites are risky to search when attached to celebrity names on the web and calculates an overall risk percentage.

Here is this year’s top 10 celebrities from the UK with the highest percentages.




Cheryl Cole


Daniel Radcliffe


Jessie J


David Beckham


Alesha Dixon


Ellie Goulding


Pixie Lott


Harry Styles


Lily Allen


Rita Ora

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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