Miley Cyrus, a.k.a. Hannah Montana, turns 18 this week and online data thieves have been busy devising online traps to steal data and spread spam capitalizing on the teen pop princess's likeness and online popularity to ensnare more victims.

A Google search for Cyrus, who for years has been a popular lure for socially engineered spam and malware campaigns, returns more than 73 million results, so malware authors know there's surely going to be a market for anything related to her.

According to security software vendor Sophos, a new message making its way around Facebook this week includes a link to a "racy" video of Cyrus with her boyfriend. But there's no video of the soon-to-be-legal Cyrus and her boyfriend doing anything at all. Instead, there's a spam survey to be filled out and, once the link has been clicked, the malware then sends out the same come-on to all of a victim's friends and contacts.


"The scammers' end game is to trick you into taking an online survey," Graham Cluley, a Sophos security analyst, wrote in a blog posting. "You're tricked into believing that you need to complete the survey in order to see the promised content."

"The bad guys, meanwhile, are earning commission for every survey completed, and are using your Facebook account to spread the links even further," he added.

Sophos and other security software vendors have seen a spike in celebrity-related scams on Facebook and other popular social networking sites in the past few months.

Just last week, teen pop star Justin Bieber was the subject of another bogus video scam on Facebook that attempted to trick people into filling out online surveys and inadvertently spread more spam and malware from their accounts.

Cluley and other security experts advise people visiting social networking sites to review and set the proper privacy settings for their accounts, never click on links or shortened URLs contained in unsolicited emails and to generally avoid opening attachments promising videos or photos of celebrities.

Larry Barrett is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.