McAfee Reveals List of Celebrities Most Exploited by Scammers for Malware Lures

McAfee, a leading online protection company, has revealed names of celebrities whose names are commonly associated with unsafe search results that could compromise the cyber security, privacy, and identity of internet users.
Hacker Celebrity Hot List prepared by McAfee
Ryan Gosling, star of the summer blockbuster “Barbie,” is the celebrity most frequently used by cybercriminals to create malware and risky websites, McAfee said.

Gosling’s rapid ascent to the top of this dubious list is attributed to his starring role in “Barbie,” a movie that not only captivated audiences but also enticed cybercriminals to exploit the film’s popularity for their scams.

McAfee previously reported that cybercriminals launched numerous scams linked to the movie, including the distribution of malware disguised as movie downloads. Months after its release, searches for Ryan Gosling remain exceptionally high, partially driven by his portrayal of Ken, which earned him a first-ever Billboard Hot 100 song, and the Ken and Barbie outfits ranking among the most searched Halloween costumes for 2023.

Following closely behind Gosling on the list is Emily Blunt, who gained prominence with her role in the summer hit “Oppenheimer.” Jennifer Lopez, Zendaya, and Kevin Costner complete the top five celebrities most exploited by scammers.

The prevalence of “Barbie” is evident in the top ten list, with three of its stars making appearances: Margot Robbie at No. 8 and America Ferrera at No. 10. Meanwhile, other popular figures such as Elon Musk and Margot Robbie occupy prominent positions on the list.

Notably, this year’s riskiest celebrities also feature prominent athletes, with Argentine soccer sensation Lionel Messi, Tom Brady, Travis Kelce, Steph Curry, Aaron Rodgers, and Serena Williams all making appearances. The list also includes well-known figures from reality television and pop culture, with Andy Cohen, Kim Kardashian, and Tom Sandoval securing their places.

McAfee’s annual “Hacker Celebrity Hot List” serves as a crucial resource to educate internet users about the risks associated with online searches and downloads. It underscores the evolving cybersecurity landscape and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) by cybercriminals to create more sophisticated scams and fraudulent content.

One emerging trend noted in the report is the use of AI to produce deepfake content, an issue that Elon Musk has been a target of. The report suggests that while many deepfakes are currently used recreationally or for fraudulent endorsements, the potential for their use in disinformation, malware distribution, and cryptocurrency scams is on the rise as AI technology becomes more accessible.

Commenting on the report, McAfee’s Chief Technology Officer, Steve Grobman, highlighted the importance of prioritizing online security over convenience. He cautioned against clicking on suspicious links and downloading content that seems too good to be true, emphasizing the need for vigilance in an era where celebrity news and entertainment have become integral parts of people’s lives.