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97 Percent Fail Spyware Sniff Test

Just 3 out of 100 Internet users are able to sniff out sites ready to drop spyware or adware onto their computers, security company McAfee said Wednesday.

In an online quiz run by McAfee's recently-acquired SiteAdvisor, a service that alerts users of possible spyware- and adware-infecting sites via search results at Google, Yahoo, and MSN, 97 percent of more than 14,000 consumers were fooled by one or more malicious sites.

"We know it's not easy to judge a site's safety just by looking at it, but that's the point: Bad sites are often very good at providing an aura of safety," said Chris Dixon, head of SiteAdvisor development, in a statement. "No matter how knowledgeable or perceptive you are, you can't rely on your instincts alone."

SiteAdvisor's quiz, first posted in March, asked users to spot the safe site from pairs in five Web categories: screensavers, smileys (emoticons), games, musical lyrics, and file sharing.

Based on the survey's results, 65 percent of the users would have been infected several times with adware or spyware, in part because they missed the fine print that many adware sites mask so that they can later claim the user actually agreed to the download.

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