Consumers may be more Internet-savvy than ever, but they're still highly susceptible to the threat of spam. McAfee announced the results of its first-ever "spam quiz," which revealed that consumers misjudge Web site e-mail practices almost half the time.
With more than 7,000 responses tabulated, the average score was only 55%, indicating that consumers are poor judges of which Web sites share e-mail addresses with third-party advertisers.
Among the key findings from McAfee's spam quiz:
- The average test taker answered three to four questions incorrectly on the eight-question quiz. A consumer who chose the three "worst" sites would have received as many as 2,000 e-mails per week. On average, submitting an e-mail address to just one of the quiz's risky sites could lead to over 300 spammy e-mails per week.
- Credit cards and online dating were the most difficult categories. Only 44% and 40% of quiz takers, respectively, answered these questions correctly. The streamlined design of the risky sites in these categories may have given consumers a false sense of security.
The examples in the spam quiz are taken from more than 6.7 million Web sites where McAfee registered with a unique, one-time-use e-mail address in order to measure the volume and content of any subsequent e-mail from each tested site.
The pairs of sites used in the quiz come from popular online categories. The percentage of consumers able to correctly determine a Web site's safety varied by category:
-- Online Dating Sites: 40%
-- Credit Cards Sites: 44%
-- Petition Sites: 52%
-- Sweepstakes Sites: 53%
-- Jokes Sites: 56%
-- E-Card Sites: 57%
-- Games Sites: 68%
-- Scholarships Sites: 68%