Ellie Goulding named the internet's most dangerous celebrity

Bridget Jones's Baby - World Premiere - London
Bridget Jones's Baby - World Premiere - London

Fans of Ellie Goulding beware, because a new study has revealed that searching the internet for your favourite pop star is more likely to expose you to dangerous malware and viruses than searching it for anyone else. Fans of Geordie Shore could find themselves on the wrong end of an attack too.

The 'Still Falling for You' singer attracts plenty of attention - as much for her high profile friendships with the likes of Prince Harry and Calvin Harris as for her hit songs. It means that fans are keen to read about her and listen to her music, and the criminals are making the most of it.

Intel Security warns that the hackers can direct people to sites and get them to click on links and download malware as they search for the latest news and tracks from their celebrity favourite.

Top 5

The McAfee Most Dangerous Celebrity list revealed that Geordie Shore stars Charlotte Crosby and Holly Hagan fans are also targets for the criminals (in 2nd and 5th place), so that when people think they are downloading photos, they are actually downloading a virus to their computer, which can do anything from watching your every move, to stealing passwords and damaging the computer itself.

The top five most dangerous are named as Ellie Golding, Charlotte Crosby, Rita Ora, Calvin Harris and Holly Hagan. Yet again it proves that criminals are targeting those searching for beautiful, famous women (and Calvin Harris). Last year's number one was Kelly Brook.

Torrent risk

People trying to download free music are particularly at risk. The study found that celebrity names combined with the terms 'free MP4', "HD downloads' or 'torrent' are some of the most searched for terms on the internet, and therefore some of the most likely to be targeted by cyber criminals.

Whoever you are searching for, the study has revealed that you may well be putting yourself at risk. Some 44% of Brits say they would click on a site before checking it was safe, and 36% don't know what malware is.

Nick Viney, Consumer Vice president at Intel Security said: "The desire for consumers to stay up to date with the latest celebrity gossip can often make them unwittingly vulnerable to cyber crime. Many consumers are quick to click but do they actually stop and consider the potential risks this poses by doing so?"

Protect yourself

The best way to protect yourself is to get your gossip from recognised news sources, and your music and videos from the original source, so you know you are not clicking on anything malicious.

If you really feel the need to search for the word 'torrent', exercise extreme care. This is by far the riskiest search term, because criminals can use torrents to embed malware within authentic files, making it difficult to determine if a file is safe.

It's also well worth getting online virus protection and web protectors that will warn you about risky sites or malicious links before you visit them. And don't just protect your computer - think about your phone and tablet too.

You also need to exercise a bit of sensible self-preservation. If you receive a request to enter information like your credit card number, email, home address or password, don't give this information out without thinking. Do your research to make sure you are not falling victim to a phishing scam.