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Most Web Users Unable to Spot Spyware 399

Ben writes "According to a Spyware Quiz conducted by McAfee SiteAdvisor , a staggering 97% of Internet users are just one click away from infecting their PCs with spyware. One interesting conclusion from this study showed that even users with a high "Spyware IQ" have a nearly 100% chance of visiting a dangerous site during 30 days of typical online searching and browsing activity."
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Most Web Users Unable to Spot Spyware

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  • Missing Poll Option (Score:5, Informative)

    by rcw-home ( 122017 ) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @11:09PM (#15209694)
    For questions 1-4: None Of The Above!

    Seriously, is McAfee trying to imply that some executable code you download off the Internet from people/organizations of unknown repute is safe?

    BTW, if 3% of people answered their questions correctly, that means that 5 of 8 questions effectively had 50% odds. For example, if 50% of people were able to get questions 5-8 correct, and everyone just flipped a coin to answer questions 1-4, you'd get a 3% all-correct rate.

  • Re:Wait... (Score:3, Informative)

    by sqlrob ( 173498 ) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @11:11PM (#15209706)
    But I can tell you this, unless they're getting really good at hiding running processes

    It's a basic function of most rootkits.
  • FireFox (Score:5, Informative)

    by OctoberSky ( 888619 ) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @11:17PM (#15209734)
    Notice the Top Right of any pic. Thier FireFox is out of date.

    And that is just another reason I don't use McAfee.
  • Re:Wait... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mistlefoot ( 636417 ) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @11:23PM (#15209767)
    I've said it before and I'll say it again.

    Maintain an up to date hosts file - the best I've found is from here -

    Blocking a site from loading prevents - well prevents if from loading. What more can you ask for? If you keep your file up to date (their most recent hosts file is 6 days old) you certainly are preventing a lot of the risk.
  • No kidding. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Zerathdune ( 912589 ) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @11:44PM (#15209849) Journal
    I got a 5 of 8, and that's cheating by having heard of kazaa and emule. I doubt few people would have seen through the "NO SPYWARE" label that was 2nd in size only to the word Kazaa, without prior knowledge, but I bet a lot more would have been able to figure it out from seeing the actual site, not a 798 x 600 screenshot (what a random number,) and I bet even more are smart enough to not touch it if they don't know what it is, but this quiz doesn't account for any of that, and it pics the kind of sites that are visited mostly by the segment of the population who ISN'T educated about this stuff. screen savers, smilies, and pretty much anything that says it's free, but doesn't say open source - stay away or be very freakin' cautious.

    let's go through the quiz (if you want to see for yourself untainted, do so before reading this):

    the first 4 questions have you determine which of two sites is safe, based on screen shots.

    question 1: choose between two screen saver distrobution sites. like all the others, it's just a screenshot, and doesn't even show the whole front page, let alone users look at other pages. the only decernable difference is that the first one looks more professional, so heeding the remarks in the article that said most users seem to think that means it's safe, and "reading between the lines," I picked the other one, since there was no logical way to decide. I was wrong.

    question 2: smilies. the one on the right looked more professional, and said "NO UNWANTED SOFTWARE" in a very easily spotted location, with big letters, and the other in regular sized font, in the bottom right, had a half cut off message that pretty clearly stated (even with incompete sentances) that it contained spyware, so I picked the one on the right, this time with some actual info to go on. I was right.

    question 3: free games. the sites had no noticeable differences in professionalism, no warnings or advertising of spyware freeness either way, nothing to go on that really made any sense to actually use, so I decided that TotallyFunFreeStuff was trying to hard, and was probably hiding something, and picked the other. I was right.

    question 4: Lyrics. important to note that this one used active X, so it's irrelevant to anyone who's not dumb enough to still regularly use IE anyways, which now that I mention it, I think I'll soon put a rant about McAffee and that that in my Journal (will be a first entry,) but it's to much of a tangent for this post. anyways, the one on the left looked more professional, and the one on the right had a "firefox blocked a popup" message on it, so I picked the left (entirely because of the message, I continue to mention the professionalism because the article made a stink about it.) I'd like to note that the thing I took as a tip off wouldn't be availible if I were seceptable to this at all, as it's a firefox message, which doesn't do active X. In any case, I was wrong.

    the last 4 questions had you determine whether a file sharing program was safe based on the usual screenshot of the webpage.

    Bearshare: site looks professional, there's a link for a "FREE Sponsored version," sponsored sets off a red flag in my mind, I say no. I'm right.

    eMule: worst site design of the four astheticly, says it's open source, I've heard of it, I say yes. I'm right.

    blubster: pretty sleek front page design, though it feels like a splash screen, so there's almost no information. nothing to go on really except that it says it's 100% free, which given the fact that OSS/Free software tends to advertize itself as such, and they didn't, probably meant add supported, but for some incomprehensible reason I still picked yes. I'm wrong.

    Kazaa: slick page, big "NO SPYWARE" label on the font page, there's a main section for the privacy thing, which I bet a lot of people would have looked at if it were a page, not a picture, but instead just trusted it because the label was all they had to go on. I was familiar with the software though, so

  • Re:VMWare (Score:3, Informative)

    by svallarian ( 43156 ) <svallarian&hotmail,com> on Thursday April 27, 2006 @12:08AM (#15209949)
    Sandboxie works really, really good for this purpose. You can sandbox IE (or any other app for this purpose) and even if you get infected by spyware, as soon as you close IE, all is gone. []

  • Re:Wait... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Gorshkov ( 932507 ) <> on Thursday April 27, 2006 @04:40AM (#15210658)
    you're right - it's very, very, VERY wrong - and it's pretty obvious that that "survey" was done simply to push their opinion

    I just took that survey myself - and I'm a "tightrope walker" - I only got 5 of 8 right.

    And I only got 5 of 8 right because you have to GUESS which ones are right, and which ones are not. If you've never heard of those sites before (and I hadn't), you're flipping a coin.

  • Re:Wait... (Score:3, Informative)

    by mlefevre ( 67954 ) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @07:19AM (#15210956) Homepage
    I don't think Firefox has had a "silent install" vulnerability yet."

    It has had several. The vulnerabilities highlighted in pink on the security advisory page [] are those that allow remote code execution (some, but not all, of them are only potential remote execution issues that haven't actually been shown to allow execution). For example: Privilege escalation using crypto.generateCRMFRequest [].
  • Re:Wait... (Score:2, Informative)

    by yfkar ( 866011 ) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @09:50AM (#15211673)
    The lyrics site question was the hardest. Also, the site which they call "safe" has popups for a fake spyware scanner which does (for example) the following things:
    Opens and scans your email address book . Modifies Internet Browser Settings:(HomePage). Creates registry run keys to ensure it is restarted every time you boot your PC. Installs other malicious programs. Examines which processes are running on your PC allowing it to explore vulnerabilities in Windows and your antivirus and anti-spyware products. Connects with 3rd party computer systems and forwards data via the internet. Installs programs. Deletes programs. Invokes activex components. Invokes dll components. Hijacks other processes.
    Not quite safe, is it?

Today is the first day of the rest of your lossage.