Avril Lavigne is once again topping the charts. But if the Canadian singer had her way, we’re guessing this is one ranking she would rather have nothing to do with. According to the cybersecurity firm McAfee, the pint-sized “Sk8er Boi“ singer is “the most dangerous celebrity” on the internet.
What could possibly be so menacing about a 5’1" singer from the sleepy town of Napanee, Ontario, you ask? Well, the annual report doesn’t assess the threat level from the celebrity themselves, but rather the risk level of searching said celebrity’s name online.
“Cybercriminals continue to use the fascination of consumers with celebrity culture to drive unsuspecting users to potentially malicious websites that can be used to install malware, steal personal information and even passwords,” McAfee said in a statement.
Lavigne’s name topped the list with a 14.5-percent risk level, beating out fellow pop impresario Bruno Mars, who came in second. Carly Rae Jepsen, Zayn Malik and Ceine Dion rounded out the top five. Gary Davis, McAffee’s chief consumer security evangelist, said it’s our insatiable desire for “the latest hit albums, videos, movies and more,” that makes us susceptible to hostile forces online.
“Consumers often prioritize their convenience over security by engaging in risky behavior like clicking on suspicious links that promise the latest content from celebrities,” Davis explained. “It’s imperative that they slow down and consider the risks associated with searching for downloadable content. Thinking before clicking goes a long way to stay safe online.”
We should note that people are a lot more likely to have their devices infected if they eschew mainstream methods of obtaining content. Streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, and online stores like iTunes and Amazon are safe havens for acquiring the latest content while assuming little to no risk.
It’s when users start exploring unreliable alternatives that things become dicey. Case and point: users who include the terms “free MP3” in their Avril Lavigne searches increase the likelihood of infection by a whopping 22%.
As for why there seems to be a sudden interest around the singer—who hasn’t released new music since 2014 when she revealed her battle with Lyme disease—McAfee suggests that it’s a mix of her recent announcement that a new album is imminent, and her newfound status as an internet curiosity.