Consumer, Family Safety

Aquaman, King of the Seven Seas May Also be King of Threats

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By on Jul 15, 2013

Wonder Twin powers activate! Shape of a Pterodactyl! Form of an icicle! Watching the Super Friends on Saturday mornings in my pjs while eating sugared cereal for breakfast and reading comic books was the extent of my relationship with super heroes. Ahh… those were much simpler times.

Today kids can find everything they need to know (and more) about their favorite superhero online. And with computers, Internet-connected game consoles and mobile devices all readily available, they can access this information at any time. But now searching for these super heroes may not be all that innocent as just looking for fun facts.

With the resurgence of the superheroes into mainstream movies (think Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America to name a few), hackers are leveraging their popularity to target consumers. Hackers are most successful when they can attract a large number of victims. One way to target big crowds online is to track current events—everything from celebrity meltdowns and natural disasters to holidays and popular music—and now, superheroes.

McAfee reveals the top Most Toxic Superheroes (#toxicsuperhero) that result in the greatest number of risky websites when you search for them online. The research found that searching for the latest “Aquaman and free torrent download,” “Aquaman and watch,” “Aquaman and online,” and “Aquaman and free trailer” yields a 18.6% chance of landing on a website that has tested positive for online threats, such as spyware, adware, spam, phishing, viruses and other malware.

The study uses McAfee® SiteAdvisor® site ratings, which indicate which sites are risky to search for celebrity names on the Web and calculate an overall risk percentage. The top Superheroes from the research with the highest percentage of risk are:

  1. Aquaman                   18.60%
  2. Mr. Fantastic            18.22%
  3. The Hulk                    17.30%
  4. Wonder Woman       16.77%
  5. Daredevil                   16.70%
  6. Iron Man                    15.63%
  7. Superman                   15.21%
  8. Thor                            15.10%
  9. Green Lantern          15.00%
  10. Cyclops                       14.40%
  11. Wolverine                   14.27%
  12. Invisible Woman      12.40%
  13. Batman                       12.30%
  14. Captain America        11.77%
  15. Spider-Man                 11.15%

Here’s some tips to help you stay safe while searching online (whether it be from your PC or mobile device):

  • Be suspicious: If a search turns up a link to free content or too-good-to-be-true offers, be wary
  • Double-check the web address: Look for misspellings or other clues that the site you are going to may not be safe (for more on this, read my blog on typosquattting)
  • Search safely: Use a safe search plug-in, such as McAfee SiteAdvisor software that displays a red, yellow, or green ratings in search results, warning you to potential risky sites before you click on them
  • Protect yourself: Use comprehensive security software on all your devices, like McAfee LiveSafe™, to protect yourself against the latest threats

Broadly speaking, this study confirms that scammers consider popular trends when deciding which victims to target. This makes common sense. If hackers are motivated largely by profit, the biggest profits can be wrung from the largest pools of potential victims. And on the web, popular trends and visitor traffic are highly correlated—so be smart and don’t fall into their trap.

Discuss on Twitter using #toxicsuperhero

Robert

Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Evangelist to McAfee. Watch him discussing information he found on used electronic devices YouTube. (Disclosures)

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