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Twenty-Four Seven Security


System Error or Human Error

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I have a pretty fair number of readers for this blog (even though I've been a bit lax lately, but I'm back to blogging full-time again), but according to an article over at Dark Reading, I'd have a lot more readers if my blog appeared as a pop up in the middle of your screen and told you your system was about to crash unless you read all of my blog entries from beginning to end (I don't even do that, and I write them).

A by the North Carolina State University Psychology Department found that participants were fooled by phony system error messages 63 percent of the time, which means they chose the OK button on the fake alert instead of just closing it. These error messages were similar to those in Windows XP but with a few differences like a flashing black and white background, or one that changed the cursor to a hand when placed over the box.

This study was done on 40 undergraduates, who were not told the actual purpose of the study, but instead were told to rate different health-related websites. The researchers found that even getting hit with multiple warnings didn't even improve the students ability to distinguish the good from the bad.

One solution for this problem would be for the vendors to create more unique and noticable pop-up warning messages, but as one could probably figure, those could be quickly copied too. Another method would be, instead of pop ups, simply have a vendor rep skydive to that persons back-yard or rooftop to warn them about a system error, but that probably wouldn't work either, as nobody likes answering the door when they're typing at a computer.

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Peter Schooff's blog is a daily look at what's going on in the world of computer security with an emphasis on how it affects businesses.

Peter Schooff

Peter Schooff is Contributing Editor at ebizQ, and manager of the ebizQ Forum. Contact him at pschooff@techtarget.com

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