updated 6/1/2012 12:16:20 PM ET 2012-06-01T16:16:20

With all the bugs, worms, Trojans, glitches, flaws, vulnerabilities, exploits, malware, viruses and everything else out there designed to harm your computer, it makes sense that 83 percent of the world's computer users browse the Web using some form of security protection. But what about the remaining 17 percent?

According to a new study conducted by the security firm McAfee, those 17 percent browse the Internet with no security software at all. Think of it like going for a drive: Eighty-three percent of people buckle up and obey traffic laws, but the other 17 percent are going 100 mph with a blindfold on.

McAfee spotted more than 83 million pieces of malware in the first three months of 2012, and an average of 4,200 new potentially malicious sites and 2,200 phishing URLs per day, according to the company's Threat Report  for the Q1 2012.

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"The freedom to browse the Internet comes with the added risk of unwanted exposure, and cybercriminals are preying on unsuspecting victims," Steve Petracca, senior vice president of consumer, small business and mobile at McAfee, said in the report. "With the increasing number of global cyberattacks affecting customers, it is critical that the 17 percent of consumers that are unprotected update their anti-virus protection  before it's too late."

The forecast is even more grim when you look at just the U.S. Out of the security scans voluntarily submitted by consumers using one of the company's security programs, McAfee found that 19.35 percent of U.S. computer users have no active Internet security software to help them navigate the dangerous terrain posed by these threats. Out of those with no security in place, 12.25 percent have no protection at all, while 7.07 percent have security software installed but disabled.

McAfee's study also showed that out of the 24 participating countries, the U.S. ranked as the fifth-least protected country in terms of Internet security software. Singapore, with 21.75 percent of PCs completely unprotected, ranked as the least secure country. Finland, with only 9.7 percent of its PCs lacking security protection, was the most secure nation.

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