Cybercriminals are most likely to use names of famous footballers like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to lure netizens to malicious webpages designed to infect them with malware, cyber security firm McAfee said.
McAfee, part of Intel Security, has brought out 'Red Card Club' list showcasing the top 11 Brazil-bound football players whose web pages are considered to be risky for fans to search for online.
Other names in include Spain's Iker Cassillas, Karim Ziani (Algeria), Karim Benzema (France), Paulinho (Brazil), Edinson Cavani (Uruguay), Fernando Torres (Spain), Eden Hazard (Belgium) and Gerard Pique (Spain) .
"As is common with other cultural sensations, cybercriminals leverage consumer interest in the world's most popular sport to lure them to websites rigged with malware, malicious code capable of infecting a user's machine and stealing passwords and personal information," McAfee said.
According to the study, fans run the greatest risk when visiting sites offering screensaver downloads and videos showcasing the extraordinary skills of the players. Searching for the latest Cristiano Ronaldo content yields more than a 3.7 per cent chance of landing on a website that has been tested positive for online threats like spyware, adware, spam, phishing, viruses and other malware.
The 2014 FIFA World Cup is scheduled to kick-off in Brazil next week on June 12 and will be played till July 13. The danger is that this anticipation could lead fans to download content from pages they should not to fulfill their football experience, she added.
To avoid getting infected, McAfee has advised fans beware of content that prompts them to download anything before providing you the content. "Opt to watch streaming videos or download content from official websites of content providers," it said. Also, 'Free downloads' are the highest virus-prone search term and anyone searching for videos or files to download should be careful to not unleash malware on their computer.