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Celebrities Spread (Computer) Diseases

An anti-virus vendor named the top ten celebrities who have been exploited by hackers in the hopes that their popularity will entice people to open e-mail attachments.
Michael Jackson's acquittal notwithstanding, the pop star is a relative piker when it comes to carrying the load for malicious coders, Panda Software said Tuesday.

The anti-virus vendor named the top ten celebrities who have been exploited by hackers in the hopes that their popularity will entice people to open e-mail attachments.

"Celebrities are frequently used to distribute mails which either contain [attached] malware (often camouflaged as an image), or which contain a URL where the malware is accessed," said Panda in a warning about a recent multi-staged attack posing as a message about Jackson. "Trojans in themselves do not generally have the capacity to propagate (as worms do), and so this type of strategy is needed for the message to spread."

Top on the list: pop singer Britney Spears. "Attractive female celebrities are often used, as the excuse for sending the mail is often to entice users with the promise of interesting photos," said Panda somewhat disingenuously.

In fact, many of the come-ons featuring female celebrities have promised nude or other compromising photos.

Not the case with malware celeb number 2: Bill Gates.

Fleshing out the top 10, said Panda, are Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, Osama bin Laden, Jackson, former president Bill Clinton, Anna Kournikova, Paris Hilton, and Pamela Anderson.

Editor's Choice
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Carrie Pallardy, Contributing Reporter
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
Astrid Gobardhan, Data Privacy Officer, VFS Global
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing