August 9, 2006

Warning Unwary Searchers

Google joined AOL this week in warning internet searchers that they are about to visit sites that contain “malware” like viruses, spyware, and other software intrusions. Google is working with StopBadware.org; AOL incorporates the McAfee SiteAdvisor into its system.

Our 2005 “Spyware” study contains evidence that most internet users will welcome these alerts. For example, 48% of internet users said they have stopped visiting certain Web sites that they fear might deposit unwanted programs – and that was before Google started warning people about wandering into unsafe territory. In addition, eight in ten internet users said that more should be done to alert consumers to the presence of adware in files they are downloading. Only about one in ten internet users said clicking through a user agreement or disclaimer is adequate consent to install adware on a person’s computer.