Malware changing the way people use 'Net, study says

Nine out of 10 Internet users say the threat posed by spyware and other malware has forced them to change their online habits.

That's according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, whose latest survey is based on telephone interviews with about 2,000 adults in the U.S.

The results pointed to assorted changed behavior:

- 81 percent of users say they no longer open e-mail attachments unless they are expecting them.

- About half say they have stopped visiting certain Web sites they fear might leave them with unwanted programs.

- One quarter say they have stopped downloading music or video files from peer-to-peer networks.

- Some 43 percent of survey respondents say they have been hit by spyware or adware, though the survey outfit says that number might be low since it's unclear just how familiar users are with those malware terms. Users cited such problems as system slowdowns and having their home page change without their approval.

Only about one in 10 users says that the common practice of clicking through a user agreement or disclaimer is suitable consent to install adware on a machine.

For a copy of the report, visit http://www.pewinternet.org/PPF/r/160/report_display.asp.

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