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Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Wayne Rooney emerge as huge malware threats ahead of 2014 FIFA World Cup

Cristiano Ronaldo has emerged as one of this year’s most potent cybercrime threats with criminals looking to take advantage of searches bearing his name.

Related: Cyber attacks ready to lay siege to 2014 World Cup

A McAfee study found that searches for the preening Portugal star’s name are the most likely to return results that redirect users to malicious sites that are built to pass malware and Trojans on computers.

McAfee released ‘The Red Card Club’, which is an entire list of football stars that it expects to spread malware and it reads like a who’s-who of those that are appearing at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil this summer.

Searches for Iker Casillas, Gerard Pique, Eden Hazard, Fernando Torres, Paulinho, Karim Ziani, Edinson Cavani and Karim Benzema all lead to traps laid by hackers, and Ronaldo is the most used of all the names.

The figures relating to Ronaldo show that when searching for the Portuguese star there is over a 3.7 per cent chance of returning a site that is dubbed by McAfee as “untrustworthy”. It points out that these sites can contain any number of different threats including malware, adware, phishing scams, viruses or spam.

McAfee also sent out a high risk alert ahead of the 2014 World Cup that warns users to remain vigilant when it comes to sites that claim to host multimedia content like videos and wallpaper that is a potential threat to any users visiting such sites.

Related: Millions migrating online for the 2014 World Cup: TV left in the dust

Further experts identified by IBTimes have stated that as the 2014 FIFA World Cup draws closer the number of illegitimate websites is only going to increase and remaining vigilant when searching for the likes of Ronaldo, Leo Messi and Wayne Rooney is one way to prevent damage.