Superheroes are supposed to stand up for truth and justice, but sometimes, villains manipulate these good-natured souls into doing their dirty work. Such is the case in real life, as well: malefactors who want to infect computers use Superman's good name (as well as others) to scam people into visiting compromised sites and downloading dangerous software.
The information comes from Santa Clara, California-based security company McAfee, which released its "Most Toxic Superhero 2014" list on July 15. The list determines how likely the average user is to stumble across malware by searching for the name of any given superhero, and came up with 11 likely suspects (two heroes tied for third place).
Superman topped the list with a staggering 16.5 percent of his search traffic leading to unsafe sites. McAfee considered spyware, adware, spam, phishing, viruses and other malware as viable threats, and used popular search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing to gauge how often his name cropped up.
The company also searched each superhero's name in conjunction with common phrases like "free torrent download" and "free app," as seeding fake torrents is a common way for malefactors to infect computers.
The top 10 list included 11 superheroes due to a tie, and represented both Marvel and DC fairly well. Thunder-god Thor ranked second, followed by Wonder Woman and Aquaman tied for third. Fourth place went to feisty X-Man Wolverine, followed by Spider-Man, Batman and Black Widow. Captain America ranked eighth, with Green Lantern and Ghost Rider rounding out the list. It's notable that each of these characters has been in a movie recently, save for Aquaman.
Aspiring do-gooders need not work very hard to avoid these scams. Misleading superhero websites tend to have the same flaws as any other unsafe page. Keep an eye out for typos and files that look suspicious. Run an Internet security program in the background (your antivirus or antimalware program probably has one built-in). Lastly, check what other commenters say before downloading a torrent.