If you like keeping tabs on actress Cameron Diaz, you may be better off sticking to People magazine and Access Hollywood rather than Googling her. A report from security vendor McAfee says the actress is this year's number-one celebrity whose search results are likely to infect your computer.
The Charlie's Angels star, who turns 38 next week, edged out Eat Pray Love star Julia Roberts and Jessica Biel, last year's winner of the dubious distinction, in McAfee's fourth annual analysis.
Cruising for Trouble
Other suspicious-search stars include supermodel Gisele Bundchen at fourth, followed by Inglourious Basterds squad leader Brad Pitt and Brazilian model Adriana Lima. CBS TV's Ghost Whisperer star Jennifer Love-Hewitt and actress Nicole Kidman tied for seventh.
Searching for Kidman's ex-husband, actor Tom Cruise, could also be considered risky business: The star ranked eighth, while model Heidi Klum and Oscar-winner Penelope Cruz tied for ninth. HBO's True Blood star Anna Paquin was last on the list.
Searching for Diaz, whose most recent film was Knight and Day, will yield a 10 percent chance of reaching a site that loads malware onto your computer. The risk increased to 19 percent when searching for "Cameron Diaz and screensavers," McAfee said.
"This year, the search results for celebrities are safer than they've been in previous years, but there are still dangers when searching online," said Dave Marcus, security researcher for McAfee Labs. "Through consumer education and tools ... consumers are getting smarter about searching online, yet cybercriminals are getting sneakier in their techniques. Now they're hiding malicious content in 'tiny' places like shortened URLs that can spread virally in social-networking sites and Twitter, instead of on web sites and downloads."
Glamor Trumps Sports, Politics
The study offers an insight into how cybercriminals perceive the interests of Internet users, staking out sexy celebrities -- including three models who have posed for Victoria's Secret lingerie catalogs -- rather than athletes or politicians, or even celebrities that appeal to younger audiences.
President Barack Obama and Republican political aspirant Sarah Palin were at the bottom of the risky subjects list, at 49 and 50, respectively. Tennis star Mara Sharapova was the 13th most popular malware draw, while golf pro Tiger Woods was 33. Pop star Lady Gaga was number 37, while teenage superstar Justin Bieber came in at 46th.
That's contrary to what the global data security firm Sophos found. "In my recent research, the most prominent poisoned search has been terms related to Justin Bieber," said Chet Wisniewski, senior researcher at Sophos Canada.
Wisniewski said the best way to avoid a malware infection is to look closely before you click.
"One way is to look at the title of the result and see if it makes sense in the context," he said. "A result pretending to be about the World Cup that points to westsidepools is likely a poisoned result. Most poisoned results also point to URLs with a random .php in the link."
McAfee's survey is intended to promote its security software, Site Advisor Plus and Total Protection. Site Advisor color-codes search results red, yellow and green -- like a traffic light -- to mark the level of risk.