– According to PandaLabs, these are the celebrity names that most frequently appear in malicious email.

– Britney Spears, Angelina Jolie and Lindsay Lohan are also high on the list

– Fernando Alonso is the first Spaniard in the list, in eleventh place


With the Oscars just around the corner, PandaLabs, the malware analysis and detection laboratory, has drawn up a ranking of the celebrity names most frequently used in 2008 by cyber-crooks in malicious email (spam and malware-infected emails). The results of the survey clearly indicate how Hollywood actors were the favorite bait of cyber-crooks in 2008. Specifically, Brad Pitt (12.57%) and Tom Cruise (12.14%) occupied the first two places in the ranking and accounted for almost a quarter of all malicious mail related to famous people. They are this year’s joint-winners of the malware Oscars.

The girls weren’t far behind though, occupying most of the remaining places in the top ten. Actresses Angelina Jolie (11.62%), Lindsay Lohan (10.15%), and Jessica Alba (9.52%) were in fourth and fifth and seventh places respectively. While Jennifer Aniston, with 5.14%, was 10th in the ranking.

However the list also contained singers, both established and aspiring. Britney Spears was in third place with 12.01% of the total and the participants in American Idol (the US reality show) in sixth place, accounting for 9.52% of all malicious email related with celebrities. Eighth and ninth places were occupied by the veteran TV presenter Oprah Winfrey (8.08%) and Paris Hilton (6.64%).

The first Spaniard in the list was F1 racing driver Fernando Alonso, who was in eleventh place, although accounting for just 0.72% of malicious email related with celebrities. Christina Aguilera, Barack Obama, Lewis Hamilton, Tiger Woods, Rihanna, Shakira, Madonna, Scarlett Johansson and Fidel Castro are some of the other famous names that have been used at one time or other as bait by cyber-crooks.

“Cyber-criminals are always keeping track of the names that users frequently search for on the Internet or those that often crop up in forums or social networks. They then use these names when sending spam. This way, they entice users into opening the emails and following links or running attachments. This is known as social engineering”, explains Luis Corrons, technical director of PandaLabs. “Users that take the bait will invariably end up infecting their computers with some type of malware”.

Typical phrases that are used in these emails include:

“Angelina Jolie nude”

“Britney Spears hot images”

“Rihanna exposed”

“Scarlett Johansson spills boobs”.

You can find images of malicious email related with celebrities here http://www.flickr.com/photos/panda_security/tags/famous/

Panda Security advises users not to open any unsolicited mail claiming to contain stories or photos of famous people and never to run any attachments or follow any links in these messages.