Most Web Users Unable to Spot Spyware
By Sophia Mayengbam
Most internet users are attracted with clean appealing graphics and advertisements, thus falling in the trap of spyware. According to the a Spyware Quiz conducted by McAfee SiteAdvisor a staggering 97 percent of Internet users are just one click away from infecting their PCs with spyware, adware.
Most internet users are attracted with clean appealing graphics and advertisements, thus falling in the trap of spyware. According to the a Spyware Quiz conducted by McAfee SiteAdvisor a staggering 97 percent of Internet users are just one click away from infecting their PCs with spyware, adware or some other kind of unwanted software. Even though the threat of spyware has received extensive media coverage, just 3 percent of the 14,000-plus consumers who took SiteAdvisor's spyware quiz received perfect scores.
The survey challenged Web surfers to test their ability to detect which sites in a number of popular categories were free of adware or spyware. The examples in the quiz are taken from more than three million Web sites which SiteAdvisor has independently tested and rated for Web safety issues like spyware and spam. The first part of the quiz presented users with pairs of sites and asked them to pick which one of the pair was safe. The second part presented a series of file sharing software sites and asked which ones were spyware and adware free.
Fig. 1: SiteAdvisor Spyware Quiz Webpage 1
Fig. 2: SiteAdvisor Spyware Quiz Webpage 2
The ones in the survey were chosen from three million sites already tested and given a safety rating. Sites were selected from popular categories -- screensavers, smileys, free games, song lyrics, and file-sharing applications -- all of which are also notorious for distributing spyware, adware and other unwanted programs. The quiz was specifically designed to determine how adept users are at visually detecting the potential for intrusive downloads on a site.
The survey found that based on their choices majority of the users (65 percent) chose would have been infected with adware or spyware many times over. Respondent easily fall in the prey of national advertisers and a clean and uncluttered design. Users often miss the fine print that allows a dangerous Web site to claim it installs unwanted software legally. Even users with high �Spyware IQ� have nerly 100 percent chance of visiting a dangerous site during 30 days of typical online searching and browsing activity.
The Percent of Consumers Able to Correctly Determine a Web Site's Safety is shown in the Pie Chart below:
Respondent did particularly poorly on the pair of lyrics sites. One possible reason is the unsafe site had advertising from well-known brands like Circuit City and Monster.com that may have served to legitimise it.
"We know it's not easy to judge a site's safety just by looking at it, but that's the point: Bad sites are often very good at providing an aura of safety," said Chris Dixon, who heads McAfee's SiteAdvisor development. "No matter how knowledgeable or perceptive you are, you can't rely on your instincts alone. Another important take-away that people sometimes forget is that there ARE safe sites, even in these often abused categories."
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