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Online Users Learn to Avoid Spyware

The vast majority of online consumers have changed their computing behavior because of the threat of spyware and viruses being downloaded onto their computers, according to a survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, with 9 out of 10 users saying they have made at least one change to evaid the unwanted downloading of software, InformationWeek reports.

Nearly 7 in 10 home internet users in the U.S., or about 93 million people, have experienced at least one problem related to unwanted software.

Nearly half of the 2,000 adults surveyed by Pew claimed to have personally experienced spyware infestation, writes VNUNet and quotes Susannah Fox, associate director at Pew, as saying, "This is probably a conservative estimate."

More than 80 percent said not opening email attachments unless certain they were harmless was among the online behavior changes induced by the threat of viruses and spyware.

More than 59 million people, or 43 percent of those surveyed, said they have found one example of adware or spyware on their computers, after Pew researchers discussed the definitions of those terms with the online consumers, writes ClickZ. Although 80 percent of consumers said they knew about spyware, less than half understood adware.

Only 10 say say user agreements, privacy statements and disclaimers are sufficient to advise users that they're installing adware, and 73 percent of online users say they don't always read user agreements and disclaimers when downloading or installing programs.

Nearly half no longer visit websites they fear might distribute unwanted software; one-fourth said they no longer download music or video from file-sharing sites, and nearly 20 percent said they now use a different web browser to avoid unwanted downloading.

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