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Tabu, Anushka, SRK among ‘dangerous’ celebs for Indians to search online, but Ronaldo is No.1

India-specific study by cybersecurity firm McAfee says users have been particularly active online under Covid lockdown, and hackers are capitalising on this.

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New Delhi: Tabu, Taapsee Pannu, Anushka Sharma, Sonakshi Sinha — if you search online for any of these actresses’ names from India, you could get into trouble, according to cybersecurity major McAfee. But there’s an even bigger risk for football fans — the No.1 ‘most dangerous’ celebrity name you can search for is that of Portugal and Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ronaldo is the only non-Indian celebrity on the top-10 list of ‘most dangerous celebrities to search for online’ released by US-headquartered antivirus maker McAfee, followed by Tabu, Pannu, Sharma, Sinha, singer-songwriter Armaan Malik, another Bollywood actress Sara Ali Khan, and television actress Divyanka Tripathi. Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan is on the list at number nine, with playback singer Arijit Singh at number 10.

According to McAfee, these celeb searches are dangerous because they often lead users to sites set up by hackers that contain malicious software (malware), which could end up stealing personal information.

“In 2020, owing to the Covid-19 induced lockdown, Indians have been particularly active online,” McAfee stated in press note, adding that people have also started looking for more entertainment in the way of “free movies and TV shows”, and even “celebrity news and gossip”. The firm added: “Hackers too honed-in on this trend, following consumer behaviour to execute their scam strategies.”

Venkat Krishnapur, vice-president of engineering and managing director at McAfee India said: “As consumers scout the web for free entertainment now more than ever, cybercriminals trail close behind, capitalising on this interest. Unsuspecting users often look for free and pirated content such as major sports events, movies, TV shows, along with images and leaked videos of their favourite celebs.

“Bad actors leverage consumers’ fascination with pop culture and drive unsuspecting fans to malicious websites that install malware on their devices, potentially putting personal information at risk.”

Also read: India to get new, ‘robust’ cyber security policy soon, says PM Modi

What users can do

Krishnapur’s advice to users is to remain vigilant and not fall for the trap of free content.

“When consumers compromise on security in favour of convenience and freebies, they put their digital lives at risk. It is vital that fans stay vigilant, avoid suspicious links that promise free content and think twice before clicking,” he said.

McAfee also offered a few practices to avoid falling prey to malicious sites.

“Only click on links to reliable sources,” the press note said, adding that illegal streaming should be avoided.

“…It is important to only use legitimate music and movie streaming platforms, even if they come at a cost. Many illegal downloads are riddled with malware or adware disguised as .mp3 files,” it stated.

McAfee also suggested parental control software be used to monitor what sites children are browsing, as they too might be searching for some of these ‘risky’ celeb names, leading to malicious sites.

Also read: Cyber security can seem scary, but really it’s a source of hope


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