M.S. Dhoni, one of India’s most celebrated sportsmen, has topped the McAfee Most Dangerous Celebrity list, 2019. Other eminent celebrities that feature in the list include cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and actors Radhika Apte and Shraddha Kapoor.
In its thirteenth edition, McAfee’s research identified popular celebrities generating the riskiest search results that could potentially expose their fans to malicious websites and viruses.
Dhoni led the team to the 2011 World Cup title after 28 years, and is seen as an iconic figure in the country. With a biopic “Dhoni – The untold story", and a docu-series “Roar of the Lion", to honour the superstar, Dhoni is immensely popular and this has created a field day for cyber criminals to lure unsuspecting consumers to malicious websites, that may install malware or steal personal information and passwords.
Emerging second on the list, was another Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar, followed by Gautam Gulati, winner of the reality TV show – Bigg Boss. Following them closely was Bollywood actor Sunny Leone, and pop icon Badshah. Next on this list was Radhika Apte (6), Shraddha Kapoor (7), Harmanpreet Kaur (8), P.V. Sindhu (9) and Cristiano Ronaldo (10).
“The significant ease of internet access, through a host of connected devices has made it increasingly viable for users to avail content from all over the world. As subscription-based content platforms continue to grow in India, netizens often look for free and pirated content such as major sports events, movies, TV shows, and images of their favourite superstars. Unfortunately, they may not be fully aware of the risks that malicious websites providing such content can pose in exchange for this access." said Venkat Krishnapur, Vice-President of Engineering and Managing Director, McAfee India.
He further added that cyber criminals leverage this opportunity and prey on consumer vulnerabilities when they compromise on security in favour of convenience. It is essential for consumers to recognize these threats, think before they click and avoid suspicious links that promise free content.
Demographically, India is a young country where almost a third of its population is comprised of millennials with more than 50% of its population below the age of 25. By 2020, the average age of an Indian is expected to be approximately 29 years, making it one of the youngest countries in the world. As this digital native population continues to spend more time online owing to cheaper data and proliferation of smart devices, they will continue to remain soft targets for cyber criminals who thrive on such user behaviour. It’s important for them to understand the risks associated with torrent or pirated downloads and avoid being exploited by savvy cyber criminals.
McAfee advises consumers to stay safe online by only streaming and downloading directly from a reliable source. The safest thing to do is to wait for the official release instead of visiting a third-party website that could contain malware. Also, refrain from using illegal streaming sites. Many illegal streaming sites are riddled with malware or adware disguised as pirated video files. Protecting your online realm with a cyber security solution, using a Web reputation tool and using parental control software to help minimize exposure to potentially malicious or inappropriate websites are some of the other tips to stay safe.