Chapell & Associates

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Spyware, Viruses Changing Consumers' Online Behavior

InternetWeek July 7, 2005
The threat of spyware and viruses being secretly downloaded on their computers has caused the majority of consumers to change their online behavior over the last year, a research firm said Wednesday.

Fully 9 out of 10 consumers say they have made at least one change to avoid unwanted software, the Pew Internet & American Life Project found. For example, more than 80 percent of the 2,000 adults surveyed by Pew said they had stopped opening email attachments unless they were sure the documents were safe...

The Chapell View

One of my takeaways from this report is that consumers are beginning to recognize that the Internet - like most things in life - carries with it some risk of harm to those who enter unaware. In the same way that it might not be a good idea to walk down a dark alley whilst alone at night, it may not be wise to visit websites that you don't know without taking reasonable steps to exercise caution.

In many ways, I think this is a positive thing. Consumers need to play a role in helping to rid the Internet of Spyware and other nefarious elements. And part of that role involves accepting a certain level of responsibility.

I'm certainly not letting business off the hook here. All companies that do business online have a responsibility to provide consumers with notice and choice regarding their Internet experience. But equally, the consumer should not leave basic common sense aside when evaluating those choices. There's still somewhat of a chasm between business and consumer on these issues, but it's encouraging to see that chasm begin to narrow.

A naïve Internet surfer too often begets a burned Internet surfer, and that's certainly not a conducive environment to building trust with consumers. So if there's a growing recognition that you can't surf with closed eyes - that you shouldn't download something onto your computer without paying some heed to what that thing does, that that is certainly a positive development.

Nothing in life is entirely free. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is...

posted by Alan on Thursday, July 07, 2005

© 2005 by Alan Chapell & Associates LLC