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

According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, whose latest survey is based on telephone interviews with about 2,000 US adults, the results point to changed behavior, including:

  • 81 percent of users say they no longer open e-mail attachments unless they are expecting them
  • About half say they have stopped visiting websites 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 also said they had been hit by spyware or adware. Users cited such problems as system slowdowns and having their home page change without their consent.

Only 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.