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Alert! Study Finds Internet Users Heed Browser Warnings

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A virus alert warning on a computer screen.

Security warnings are far more effective at deterring risky Internet behavior than was previously believed, according to a new study by Google and the University of California, Berkeley.

Credit: PC World

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and Google recently conducted a study examining user behavior in relation to security warnings displayed by Web browsers. The researchers found that security warnings are much more effective at deterring risky Internet behavior than was previously believed.

The study focused on how users reacted to warnings displayed by Mozilla's Firefox and Google's Chrome browsers. In both cases, less than 25 percent of users chose to ignore malware and phishing warnings, and only about 33 percent of users ignored Firefox's SSL warnings, according to the study.

"This demonstrates that security warnings can be effective in practice; security experts and system architects should not dismiss the goal of communicating security information to end users," the researchers say.

The study also found that more technical users, such as those who used Linux and pre-release browsers, were more likely to bypass security warnings. "Technically-advanced users might feel more confident in the security of their computers, be more curious about blocked websites, or feel patronized by warnings," the researchers say.

From IDG News Service
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Abstracts Copyright © 2013 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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