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Using Psychology to Create a Better Malware Warning


A typical malware warning.

A new report suggests anti-malware messages need to be reworded to make them more effective.

Credit: threatpost

Cambridge University cryptography and computer science experts have released a report on the psychology of malware warnings, suggesting that using different language could make the messages more effective.

Studies show that average users tend to ignore computer warnings due to daily overexposure and the difficulty of separating actual threats from inconveniences.

"There is a need for fewer but more effective malware warnings...particularly in browsers," the report says.

The researchers presented more than 500 men and women with variations of a Google Chrome warning. Concrete rather than general warnings were the most effective, and invoking authority also improved attentiveness.

"Warning text should include a clear and nontechnical description of potential negative outcome or an informed direct warning given from a position of authority," the researchers say.

Social influence also appears to impact users, with study participants often clicking through warnings when friends told them it was safe. In addition, nine out of 10 respondents left computer warnings turned on, while just one in 10 wanted to turn them off.

From Threatpost
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Abstracts Copyright © 2014 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


 

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