Hacked by Superman? The most toxic superheroes to watch out for online

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McAfee published its second annual study of toxic superheroes. (Image Credit: McAfee, Inc. via CBS News.com)

Superman may be vulnerable to something besides kryptonite. It turns out he’s also a magnet for cybercriminals.

The security firm McAfee released its second annual survey of Most Toxic Superheroes today, and Superman tops the list. The lists ranks the characters that result in the greatest number of ‘infected’ Web sites when users search for them online. A McAfee representative explained in an email to CBS News that their researchers look for “bad links, including viruses, malware and sites laden with malicious software designed to steal passwords and personal information.”

Search for Superman, and there’s a 16.5 percent chance you’ll land on an unsafe site, according to McAfee. The second-most toxic superhero on the list is Thor, at 16.35 percent, followed by Wonder Woman and Aquaman, tied for third place at 15.7 percent. Aquaman dropped from the number one spot last year.

Check out the complete list in the slideshow at left.

Superheroes, while always popular online, are especially high-interest right now with San Diego Comic-Con International opening next week and excitement mounting for the upcoming film, “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice.” Millions of people are searching the Internet for superhero-related movie trailers, official Web sites, games and fan sites, inadvertently putting themselves at risk.

According to Robert Siciliano, a McAfee online security expert and spokesperson for the McAfee group publishing the list, “It is a fact of life – technology has permeated every aspect of our lives and criminals have been paying attention and capitalizing on the technologies that are with us all the time.”

Siciliano explains that “criminals use ‘black hat’ – bad guy – techniques to game their web site into the first page of your search results.” They then try to implant malicious code into your computer or mobile device, often by enticing you to download a file.

Siciliano warns that “if a site asks you to download a player in order to watch a video – that is an outright lie. They are trying to get you to download an executable file to infect your device with a virus, to spy on you, or to force you to download spam ads.”

The above is excerpted from a story appearing originally at CBSNews.com. Click here to read it in full.