Spyware is changing users' online habits

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Wednesday, July 6, 2005

According to a report by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 9 out of 10 Internet users have adjusted their online behaviour because of spyware. Of the 2,001 adults surveyed, 97% said that they had heard of the term spyware and 78% said they “had a good idea what the term meant.”

61% said they were very confident or somewhat confident they could keep things like computer viruses, spyware and adware off their computers. However, 34% said they have had spyware on their home computers. This number is probably much higher. In an October 2004 study, by AOL and the National Cyber Security Alliance, 53% of respondents said they had spyware or adware on their computers, but a scan showed that 80% of respondents actually had such programs installed.

68% of home internet users report that they have experienced problems that are normally associated with spyware. These problems include computers slowing down or crashing, new unfamiliar programs appearing on their computers and Internet home page changing without user action.

49% consider spyware to be a serious threat to their online security. 91% of internet users say they have made at least one change in their online behaviour as a result of spyware. 34% have stopped downloading programs from the Internet. 89% said they do not open email attachments unless they are sure they are safe. 25% say they have stopped using peer-to-peer networks, a common source of spyware. 8% say they have switched to a different web browser.

The Pew Internet & American Life Project report was based based upon a telephone survey conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates between May 4 and June 7, 2005. The Pew Internet & American Life Project is a non-profit research centre that produces reports that study the social effects of the Internet.

67% percent of homes in the United States now have internet connectivity.