McAfee 2023 Hacker Celebrity Hot List – Why Hackers Love Ryan Gosling so Much


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Apr 24, 2016
Hackers love Ryan Gosling. In fact, hackers use his name as bait more than any other celebrity.

With that, the celebrated star of “Barbie” and umpteen other hit films tops our Hacker Celebrity Hot List for 2023. It’s our annual study that reveals which big-name celebrity searches most often link to malware and risky sites. And this year, we’ve evolved the list. It now includes celebs spotted in deepfake and other AI-driven content.

With Gosling’s high profile this year, it comes as little surprise that he ranked so highly. As we reported earlier this year, “Barbie” was a huge hit for cybercriminals as well. They baited consumers with a rash of ticket scams, download scams, and other attacks that capitalized on the summer hit’s hype.

Who made the Hacker Celebrity Hot List?

Months later, searches for Gosling remain high. His portrayal of Ken has scored him a first-ever Billboard Hot 100 song with “I’m Just Ken.” Meanwhile, Ken and Barbie outfits rank among the most popular Halloween costumes for 2023.

And if you’re wondering, Margot Robbie, who starred as Barbie to Gosling’s Ken, ranked number eight on our list. The full top ten breaks down as follows:
  1. Ryan Gosling, Golden Globe winner and multiple Academy Award nominee.
  2. Emily Blunt, critically acclaimed actor and star of this summer’s hit film, Oppenheimer.
  3. Jennifer Lopez, pop culture icon, critically acclaimed singer, actor, and producer.
  4. Zendaya, critically acclaimed actor and singer.
  5. Kevin Costner, Academy Award-winning actor and director, and current star of the hit series, Yellowstone.
  6. Elon Musk, business magnate and tech entrepreneur.
  7. Al Roker, the “Today” show’s popular meteorologist, author, and journalist.
  8. Margot Robbie, actor, producer, and multiple Academy Award and BAFTA award nominee, and the star of this summer’s hit film, Barbie.
  9. Bad Bunny, multi-platinum album singer, and the first non-English-language singer to be named as Spotify’s most streamed artist of the year.
  10. America Ferrera, actor and noted supporting star of this summer’s hit film, Barbie.

What’s at risk when you search for these celebrities.

The hackers behind these celebrity-driven attacks are after two primary things.
  • They want you to hand over personal info so they can use it to commit identity fraud and theft.
  • They want to infect your device with malware. That might include spyware that can steal personal info or ransomware that holds your device and its files hostage—for a price.
Accordingly, they’ll pair celebrity names with terms like audio book, lyrics, deepfake, free ringtone, free movie, free download, MP4, among others—which generate results that lead to sketchy sites.

In all, they target people who want to download something or get a hold of celebrity-related content in some form. Again, think of the “Barbie” movie scams earlier this year that promoted free downloads of the movie — but of course they were malware and identity theft scams.

Searching for a celebrity name alone didn’t necessarily lead to a list of sketchy results. Our own Chief Technology Officer, Steve Grobman, described the risks well. “We know people are seeking out free content, such as movie downloads, which puts them at risk. If it sounds too good to be true, it generally is and deserves a closer look.” Yet hackers know how hungry people are for celebrity content, and unfortunately some people will go ahead and click those links that promise celebrity-filled content, despite the risks.

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