Cyber criminals are leveraging on the popularity of fictional superheroes such as Superman and Aquaman for stealing personal data of users through malicious softwares, a study by security solutions provider McAfee said.
In the study of superheroes that result in the greatest number of 'infected' sites when users searches for them online, Aquaman was found the most toxic superhero with 18.6 per cent chances of landing on a website that has been tested positive for online threats.
With the resurgence of superheroes into mainstream movies, "hackers are leveraging their popularity to target consumers", the study said.
Fans searching for content related to superheroes like Superman and Iron Man are at risk of running into online threats designed to steal personal information, it said.
"Hackers are most successful when they can attract a large number of victims. One way to target big crowds online is to track current events everything from celebrity meltdowns and natural disasters to holidays and popular music and now, superheroes," the study said.
The study used 'McAfee Site Advisor' site ratings, which indicate which sites are risky to search for celebrity names on the Web and calculate an overall risk percentage.
'Mr Fantastic' was found the second most vulnerable superhero with 18.22 per cent of chances of landing on a website exposed to online threats, such as spyware, adware, spam, phishing, viruses and other malware.
The Hulk (17.30 per cent), Wonder Woman (16.77 per cent) and Daredevil (16.70 per cent) are among the top five superheroes leading to infected content online.
On steps to protect from online threats, McAfee said that free downloads are significantly the highest virus-prone search terms. "Anyone searching for videos or files to download should be careful as not to unleash malware on their computer," it said.
Security technology company McAfee is a wholly-owned subsidiary of world's largest computer chip maker Intel Corporation.