Britney Spears a hit with hackers

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Security

The celebrity whose name is used most by hackers creating computer e-mail viruses has shifted from Microsoft chief Bill Gates to pop singer Britney Spears.

Researchers at the Glendale, Calif.-based security software-maker Panda Software combed through the seven years of virus-laden messages, and created a top-10 list of names used to dupe people into opening malicious code, or "malware."

In descending order of popularity, they listed Spears, Gates, Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, Osama bin Laden, Michael Jackson, Bill Clinton, Anna Kournikova, Paris Hilton and Pamela Anderson, IGD New Service said Tuesday.

Virus writers will use the names of celebrities to entice users into clicking on Web links or open up files that then infect their computers, said Patrick Hinojosa, chief technical officer at Panda.

"It`s a method of social engineering -- a lot of the time it has to do with the timeliness of a current news event," Hinojosa said.

UPI