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The world's 'riskiest' soccer players have been revealed, with six Socceroos rated the most likely to attract malware according to new research.

Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Argentina’s Lionel Messi have been named the world’s riskiest soccer players when it comes to spreading malware online, McAfee said today.

As excitement builds for the start of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, cybercriminals are set to capitalise on an inevitable increase in online searching by loading websites with spyware,adware, spam, phishing and viruses amongst other malware.

The McAfee Red Card Club has identified the top 11 global players that pose the greatest risk to fans when searching for their idols online.

McAfee researchers used McAfee SiteAdvisor site ratings to determine which sites are risky to search when coupled with soccer player’s names and calculated their ranking against other World Cup players to compile together the Red Card Club.

The analysis revealed that sites offering player screensavers and videos of players in action pose the biggest threat to online safety.

Following Ronaldo and Messi in the global list was Spain’s Iker Casillas and Brazil’s Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior (Neymar), with Algeria’s Karim Ziani rounding out the top five.

Fernando Torres and Gerard Pique joined Casillas in the top 11 to name Spain as the nation with the most dangerous players, followed by Brazil with two players.

Of Socceroo coach Ange Postecoglou’s 2014 World Cup 27-man squad, six players were ranked in the McAfee danger zone. Mark Milligan headed the Aussie list, followed by recent captain Tim Cahill and other talented players including Mile Jedinak, Oliver Bozanic, Mark Bresciano and Matt McKay.

McAfee Red Card Global Club:

1. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)

2. Lionel Messi (Argentina)

3. Iker Casillas (Spain)

4. Neymar (Brazil)

5. Karim Ziani (Algeria)

6. Karim Benzema (France)

7. Paulinho (Brazil)

8. Edinson Cavani (Uruguay)

9. Fernando Torres (Spain)

10. Eden Hazard (Belgium)

11. Gerard Piqué (Spain)

McAfee Red Card Socceroo Players:

1. Mark Milligan

2. Tim Cahill

3. Mile Jedinak

4. Oliver Bozanic

5. Mark Bresciano

6. Matt McKay

“As fever pitch heats up, cybercriminals are already plotting to do their worst, so it's important thay soccer fans know how to protect themselves online and not let malware spoil their fun,” said Sean Duca, Chief Technology Officer for McAfee Asia Pacific.

“Our analysis has shown that it’s even possible for players to receive red-cards away from the pitch, so in terms of cyber safety, consumers need to be especially vigilant when downloading free content so that they don’t unleash harmful malware on their devices which can pose a serious risk to their personal information,” he said.

A free version of SiteAdvisor can be downloaded at http://sideadvisor.com.

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David Swan

David Swan is a tech journalist from Melbourne and is iTWire's Associate Editor. Having started off as a games reviewer at the age of 14, he now has a degree in Journalism from RMIT (with Honours) and owns basically every gadget under the sun. He also writes for Junkee and Fasterlouder. You can email him at david.swan@itwire.com or follow him at twitter.com/mrdavidswan

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