Worst Problem on the Net: Stupid Users

Worst Problem on the Net: Stupid Users

Category: General

According to a survey conducted at the Aunty Spam site, the worst problem on the Internet is stupid users. More than 600 respondents chose from among spam, spyware, phishing, identity theft, hacking, viruses, stupid users, and lost emails.

Surprisingly, the overwhelming winner of Worst Problem on the Internet was "stupid users", garnering 38% of all responses. Spyware came in a distant second at 15%, and third place went to spam, with 10% of responses.

Only 5.7 and 6.5 percent of respondents thought that phishing and identity theft were the worst problem, respectively, and only 2 people out of the 618 respondents thought that lost email was the worst problem.

Granted, this survey was done by visitors to a well-known anti-spam site. So the "stupid users" answer may reflect the opinion of these tech-savvy users that spam is perpetuated only because (stupid) people buy stuff from spammers.

But there could be more to it than that. One commenter on the site said "If it weren't for etards, computer viruses, worms and trojans would be almost nonexistent. Almost all of the problems listed in the survey would disappear if there weren’t so many practicing etards."

There is an element of truth to that, or course. Lack of education on computer safety and security is a huge factor in the problem. It seems the Internet service providers could do a lot more in that regard. This is one of the hot buttons in the TOURBUS newsletter, so why don't the ISPs just make it mandatory reading for all their customers? :-)

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Posted by on 17 Sep 2005

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Most recent comments on "Worst Problem on the Net: Stupid Users"

(See all 21 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

Steve D
27 Sep 2005

It would be fine if there were no more stupid users. Computers were confined to the congneseti in the "old days". But boys and girls those days are gone forever. We've pushed a lot of $400 computers and a lot of stupid software down the throats of a lot naive and non-tech oriented people. It's a perfect storm of bad software and bad users.

Posted by:

28 Sep 2005

"stupid users"? "etards"?!
I'm surprised and disappointed at the attitude of the so-called elite toward those without their degree of internet knowledge.
Let's continue the driving analogy. Even with driver's education and policemen on the streets, bad things happen. Forty years ago cars didn't have seat belts, air bags or anti-lock brakes. Nor were they required to be able to withstand a 30 MPH crash. Laws changed so the manufacturers were required to make the cars safer for all of us to drive and be around. Computer manufacturers need to make their machines safer for us all to be around, whether or not we've had driver's education.

Posted by:

28 Sep 2005

I disagree with the earlier post that declares the person who had his car stolen because he left it unlocked in a bad neighborhood is the sole victim. He provided the opportunity for the thief to commit a crime that may not have been committed otherwise; he generated an insurance claim through his negligence that results in all of us paying higher premiums; and, if the thief was drunk and crashed, an innocent motorist may have died. The car owner may be a victim, but he is not the only one, and his stupidity ends up "infecting" other people.

In the insurance world, there is a concept known as "attractive nuisance." If you own a piece of vacant land and it's full of broken glass, and you post "no trespassing" signs, and a neighborhood kid trespasses anyway and gets cut up by the glass, who's the victim? You bet, it's the kid, not the property owner.

As Bill Maher says, Most People are Stupid.

I would add, There Are Lots of Lazy People Out There Too.

But, in the context of this discussion, if it weren't for the stupid and lazy ones, there would be a lot fewer geeks employed to write antivirus and antispam software...

Posted by:

28 Sep 2005

Have you ever considered that it's the 'etards' that keep the rest of us safer? They're the guinea pigs. They're the ones who find the outbreaks first. And, perhaps they keep the viruses and spyware easier to combat. They don't have to be great programs(viruses, spyware) because most people are not savvy. Simpler versions are good enough...?

Posted by:

29 Sep 2005

I think it should be microsoft's responsability to make the most popular operating system in the world safer for all to use. They sure have made enough money selling us software to give us something back. I wonder if they are going to start charging for their beta anti spyware program when it expires at the end of the year?

Posted by:

01 Oct 2005

Ahem, I teach a class for beginner computer users --- a lot of whom were given a computer by their son/daughter "here mom, you need email" or who need to be "computer literate" to get a job. As the new users are less and less techno-savvy (they're the *last* folks to get one, after all), computers themselves and the online world are more and more complicated.

It's NOT "easy" (well, yes, it is easy --- just click --- but that doesn't mean it's simple), no matter how it is for their 7 yr old grandkids, and it's a disservice to people to make them feel Stupid because they don't "get it". Just because you were never a beginner...

Who do you think signs up for "usability" studies? NOT the normal or beginner user --- it's more likely the techie geek who wants to be the FIRST to see some new software. I think the manufacturers have been listening to their more vocal (ie, technically oriented) customers rather than making the effort to find out about normal people who just want to get in and drive to the store.

Spam and phishing and spyware etc are all VERY good at "social engineering" --- making something look okay. All that free software, cute icons, dancing emails. You'd fall for it too, if you were as new to the game. After all, it's ALL strange, so how do you tell what's wrong-strange vs okay-strange??

I don't see many people who outright refuse to practice safe computing --- it's more that they really don't know how. And running all those programs is NOT easy to explain --- do you really know everything your firewall/anti-spyware is saying when it pops up?

And exactly how do you explain that kind of pop-up vs the bad kind? Remember those ads that looked EXACTLY like a warning from the OS (they're illegal now I think) saying that your computer was dangerously something or other?

I have to agree that it's the manufacturers' responsibility to make computing safer --- it's not fair to sell people something when you should KNOW by now a significant percentage don't really know what they're doing. For instance, HOW long did it take to get MS automatic updates automatic --- MS was listening to all the users they talk to (NOT beginners) who said they didn't want something "shoved down their throats"...

Personally, I think the OS should ship with defaults to HIGH security, automatic everything, potentially risky behaviors disabled. Then only people who knew how to make the changes would be able to. AND websites should be standardized to work even with basic settings --- all the flash, java, pop-ups, scripts etc would be extras, not required for functionality.

Posted by:

Aftab Siddiqi
01 Oct 2005

WHOA! Folks... Looks like alot of people had quite alot to say....lol

Anyway, I wanted to reply to certain people up there who mentioned that new users were not to be blamed as no one tells them what not to do. People, in this day and age, if a an admin is THAT incompetent, then he should publically lashed in the town square. BUT, I have observed (and there is a possibility that it is isolated to my network, though I doubt it) that users just take the attitude "a statistic can't hurt me" Or that "it could not happen to me". You tell people to assign a properly designed password, and they ask, "What is this place? The PENTAGON??". Like I mentioned in the previous post, spam starts arriving in a users mailbox, in less than 7 days. I am not trying to absolve the Sysadmin of his responsibilities. Nor is it about "blaming the victim". But at the end of the day, a smoothly running system/network depends upon a cooperative effort of the sysadmin and the users. There was once a time (not too long ago), when Viruses were propogated via infected floppies. the whole world knew that floppies were a carrier of such items, yet statistics showed that majority of major infections and resulting outages were due to a user neglegently inserting a floppy, which came from outside a network, and had not been approved by the sysadmin. Despite the fact, that there was a standing request from the sysadmin, to show him any new floppies, BEFORE using them.

However, that trend has gone out of style. Not because of Advanced Antivirus programs, but because users became more careful (and floppies went out of fashion...;)

It's not a war between Advanced users(sysadmins) and novice users (the common user). The war is between Crackers and the rest of the world. Sysadmins are the frontline tropps there, but they do require a little considerations from the general users. Else, when a virus/cracker attack succeeds, it's the poor sysadmin, getting all the blame, because some guy in the finance visited a website, and allowed a script to execute, even though there was a warning "This script might be malicious, and may cause damage to your system. Are you sure you want to continue?". The real cause of ulcer in the Sysadmin community....:)

Posted by:

03 Oct 2005

Personally, I like the analogy of cars vs computing because it's something everyone can relate to. I've used it often, along with other similar household analogies to help educate users. My observation is that this problem and many other computing problems has little to do with the user's IQ, but that of attitude - attitude being a small thing that makes a big difference.

I've sat down with what I think are intelligent people, explained the dangers, what to avoid (as in Aftab's 'ulcer' comment) and so on, yet within a week have them regurgitate the proverbial "I ain't don't got no nothing neither on my computer" they think is sensitive. Hmmm, little do they know. There's plenty of information on the net about ITD's (Internet Transmitted Diseases). In fact, the Tourbus did an excellent series (6 I think) about a year ago. Even the most casual user would ahead of the game if they had just followed this advice, even just the very basics, and we'd all be ahead if they did.

It's all fine and dandy to blame MS, computer manufacturers, software writers, their lack of due diligence and etc, but, it's the person behind the wheel (ie, keyboard) who's the problem. If Spam, Spyware and all the other ITD's were not so profitable, and users where just a little more selective, they'd die of natural attrition. SysAdmin's can equally be blamed as being part of the problem as many follow conventional thinking. If this worked, we'd see a decrease in compromised machines, not constant increases.

For instance, if SysAdmin's and home users alike would quit installing their anti-whatever's in the default directories, eg, "Program Files\...", the ITD's would have a much harder time shutting off these anti-whatever's in order to compromise the machine. In the trade, this is known as "Default Permit". In effect, you are inviting the ITD's onto your system because they know exactly where to look, by default, to cripple then compromise your computer(s). I'd suggest "C:\Defence\..." as a better strategy, or any directory name other than the "default".

I don't know anyone who would hand over their wallet to a stranger and say, "here, go have a good time". But this is exactly what they are doing by running unprotected (and uninformed) on the Internet. There'll come a time when people using computers, and the Internet in particular, are going to have to get an elicence via an etard test, and their computers pass an etest. All of this hollering and screaming for the government to 'protect us from ourselves' will assure this happens. When is the only question!

Posted by:

Glenn P.
25 Nov 2007

Someone wrote:

> "...allowed a script to execute, even though
> there was a warning "This script might be
> malicious, and may cause damage to your
> system. Are you sure you want to continue?"....

A warning! Whoo-hoo! From what? From whom?! Not, most likely, from an antivirus or similar program. Most likely, it originated from either the web browser or from the operating system itself. And web browsers and operating systems are both STUPID.

Warnings such as this would be all very fine and well, if they were issued for BAD scripts ONLY. Unfortunately, the fact is that such warnings are routinely issued for ALL scripts -- good, bad, and indifferent -- so it really makes no difference at all, you ALWAYS get that message, just click "OK" and get on with it!

When those programs which are responsible for issuing warnings cease to do so blindly, and only issue warnings where warnings are actually warranted -- so that they actually MEAN something -- things will improve. A lot.

(Hey! Are the low-grade morons who invented Vista's UAC listening? This is one reason [there are others] why we're not getting Vista any time soon.)

Posted by:

Cindy M.
26 Oct 2010

I only have this to say. Everyone at one time or another had to start learning computers to get where they are today. Yes some know more about using computers than others , just common sense. However; calling people retards, stupid, and other belittleing names is just plain wrong! You who call people names such as this should all be ashamed of yourselves! There is no such thing as a "Stupid Question" if you don't ask how are you to know , learn and grow? It is people like you who make people like me not ask questions for fear of ridicule,rude comments, and being totally embarrassed! Everyone started out learning the computer the same way one step at a time, therefore; how do any of you feel you are any better than anyone else? I am appalled at what rude , nasty comments posted here. Isn't this where one should feel free to ask questions in order to learn how to do the correct things on a computer, or how to fix something they don't understand? If so where do you people get off thinking you are better than anyone else just because you know more about running a computer? How shallow can one be? You can bet I will never ever ask a question here, as I don't need to be made to feel "stupid, retarded, or any other rude name, along with the comments I would be fearing would be coming to me as an answer! One would think adults would be above belittleing others with childish behaviors and actions..
To all of you have a good day.
Cindy M.

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