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Home » Hacking News » Surfers change habits of spyware fear

Surfers change habits of spyware fear

by Nikola Strahija on July 8th, 2005 According to a survey from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, the threat of spyware and other unwanted software is changing the way people use the internet.

Almost 90 per cent of people questioned said they have adjusted their online behaviour out of fear of falling victim to malware attacks. 25 per cent of net users have spotted new programs or desktop icons on their PCs that they hadn't installed. One in five internet users (18 per cent) have had their homepage inexplicably changed.

A surprising 68 per cent have experienced computer problems over the last year, consistent with either spyware or viral infection, although 60 per cent of those who had problems weren't sure of the cause of their difficulties.

Some more data: 81 per cent of net users say they have stopped opening unsolicited email attachments, 48 per cent say they have stopped visiting suspicious web sites out of spyware concerns, 25 per cent of those questioned said they have stopped downloading music or video files from peer-to-peer networks in order to avoid getting unwanted software programs on their computers, 18 per cent say they have changed the web browser software they use in order to avoid malware attack.

-These survey results show that as internet users gain experience with spyware and adware, they are more likely to say they are changing their behavior. But what is more alarming is the larger universe of people who have struggled with mysterious computer problems, but have no idea why, said Pew’s associate director Susannah Fox, the author of its spyware report.

According to Pew's study net users are changing their surfing habits but it's perhaps premature to think that they're following security advice from vendors. The perfect example is Win XP SP2. Although it promises improved defences against hacking and computer virus attack, only one of three users of XP applied it.

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