Security, Part 12: How Avril Lavigne can ruin your business

October 25, 2017

Online music play concept pointing finger

McAfee recently conducted their 11th annual Most Dangerous Celebrities study with Avril Lavigne topping the list, followed by that scoundrel, Bruno Mars. OK, so neither of these celebrities are actually dangerous, but searching for gossip about them can be dangerous to your facility’s cybersecurity.


According to McAfee, “we surf the internet to find the latest celebrity gossip, discover a new song, and even interact with our favorite stars. And cybercriminals know that. In fact, they’re capitalizing on that by weaving in sneaky cyberthreats within celebrity sites.”


To conduct the survey, McAfee used WebAdvisor site ratings to “determine the number of risky websites generated by searches on Google, Bing and Yahoo!, that included a celebrity name and search terms likely to yield potentially malicious websites in the results.”


Avril Lavigne took the top spot for two reasons. One: she is the subject of a conspiracy theory, which tends to lead people searching for such things into the murkier areas of the Internet. And two: she announced that she was releasing new music in late 2017. Unfortunately, content searches for new music can also lead people astray. According to McAfee, “’Avril Lavigne + free mp3’” was by far the riskiest way to search for Avril Lavigne content and resulted in a risk percentage of nearly 22%. In fact, musicians dominated this year’s list because of the dangers of searching for ‘free mp3,’ which accounted for approximately 40% of the risky websites. Free torrent accounted for 36% of risky websites and free mp4 accounted for 24% of risky websites.”


So those are some of the problematic searches, but how do cybercriminals take advantage of this? Hackers, knowing that consumers are looking for the gossip and music, lure people to their sites and get them to either download malware (in the guise of free music) or to give up their personal information.


How do you ensure searching for info on your favorite celebrity doesn’t cost you your personal data or worse, cause your employees to download malicious software? Here are tips to distribute to your employees, according to McAfee:


  • Be careful what you click. If you’re looking for a sneak-peak at an artist’s upcoming album, it’s best to wait for the official release than to visit a third-party website that could contain malware.
  • Searching for free MP3s? Not that employees should be downloading anything on their work computers, but searching for “free MP3” is a particularly risky move, resulting in the highest number of risky websites. Be sure to check with your system administrator before downloading anything, but if a website comes up in a search that doesn’t seem 100% trustworthy, avoid paying it a visit.
  • Make sure you have security protection. No matter what kind of search your conducting, it’s important that you search the web safely. A tool such as McAfee WebAdvisor can help keep you safe by identifying malicious websites and warning the user before they click.


For more information on cyber threats and cybersecurity, contact Vanguard Resources.