The 10 most dangerous people on the Web

Romanian security company BitDefender on Wednesday released statistics from its analysis of more than 25 million spam messages, which reveal the most common celebrity names used to entice users to view junkmail.

Bitdefender celebrity name graph

1. Jay Leno
2. Madonna
3. Cameron Diaz
4. Barack Obama
5. AC/DC
6. Stephen King
7. George Lucas
8. Kenny Chesney
9. Howard Stern
10. 50 Cent


Late night talk show host Jay Leno was by far the most common name used in spam, comprising more than half of all the mentions. Names that used to appear with much more frequency, BitDefender noted, did not even break the top 10. These include Oprah Winfrey, Justin Bieber, and Angelina Jolie.

"Cyber criminals follow the latest trends just as consumers do and they use these and the names of popular celebrities in their campaigns in order to lure people to websites that are full of malware," said Catalin Cosoi, Head of the BitDefender Online Threats Lab in a statement on Wednesday.

Jay Leno, however, is far from the "latest trend," which makes these recent spam trends look more a move to target a specific demographic. As L.A. Times writer Neal Gabler wrote in 2010, Jay Leno is "Your grandmother's comedian -- the comedian of the Silent Majority."

Indeed, looking at demographics in Yahoo Clues, only 10% of all searches for "Jay Leno" over the course of 2010-2011 were by users under the age of 24, the age group most likely to be on the cutting edge of Web-based trends.

35% of searches for the talk show host last year were done by users between the ages of 45 and 64; and perhaps unsurprisingly, the content of most of these spam messages, BitDefender said, typically related to medicine, the sale of pills, drugs, and similar subjects.

Likewise, "Madonna" was most commonly searched by users in the 35-44 year old age bracket, or users that were pre-teen and teenagers when Madonna was first popular.

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