by Mike Masnick

The Lessons That Spyware Teaches

from the who-needs-an-internet-license? dept

As the debate over who to blame concerning security problems continues, one suggestion that comes up often enough is the idea of having an internet license, forcing people to prove they're semi-competent before letting them go off and surf. Perhaps that won't be needed after all, thanks to spyware and adware. We've become a bit skeptical of studies by the Pew Internet and American Life Project ever since their ridiculously wrong Podcast study where they admitted that they were purposely misleading in presenting the results -- however, the results of their latest study have the ring of truth to them. It says that unlike internet scourges of ages past -- such as viruses, trojans, spam and other such fun things -- it's adware and spyware that make people wake up and realize they need to take internet security seriously. Such malware is so widespread and so destructive that people finally recognize that they are at least part of the problem. In other words, in getting burned by malware, people are learning how to surf safely -- from avoiding certain sites, to being more careful around certain downloads to switching browsers, plenty of people are making changes to their online surfing technique to protect themselves. It's the positive "unintended consequence" of all those scamming companies out there. Of course, if you want to nitpick on the stats in the study, it's still easy to do so. It's all self-reported and it appears that at least a segment of people clearly said what they thought the survey taker wanted to hear rather than what they actually do. For example, the study reports that 3/4 of internet users do not always read end user license agreements. 3/4? That number is way too low, as shown by a recent test where a company gave out money to the first person to actually read their EULA (the promise was in the EULA), and it took over 3,000 downloads and four months before anyone claimed the prize.

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