NC State tests students on how they react to pop-up messages

Posted Wednesday, September 24, 2008 10:04 PM by hwaldron

This article promotes the need for users to block all pop-out messages by using the latest version of browser software. However, even then sometimes pop-up dialogs can be successfully launched.  When this occurs, it is a best practice to always read these carefully and safely exit out.  One good approach for safely exit pop-ups is noted below.  Finally, most users are not "idiots" as noted in the referenced link, but at times they may be unaware of the risks or careless in their behaviors.  

NC State tests students on how they react to pop-up messages
http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080923-study-confirms-users-are-idiots.html

Examples of pop-up messages
http://arstechnica.com/news.media/FakeDialog.png
http://media.arstechnica.com/news.media/malware_warning.png

QUOTE: The authors, who work in the Psychology Department of North Carolina State University, crafted a set of four fake dialog boxes. All of them contained the following warning: "The instruction at '0x77f41d24 referenced memory at '0x595c2a4c.' The memory could not be 'read.' Click OK to terminate program." One of the warnings was indistinguishable from the standard Windows XP system dialog, but the remaining three were had a number of warning signs that should tip off users to potential malware.

In all cases, mousing over the "OK" button would cause the cursor to turn into a hand button, behavior more typical of a browser control; all dialogs also had minimize and maximize buttons, while a second added a browser status bar to the bottom of the window. Finally, the most blatant one alternated between black text and a white background and a white-on-black theme. All of these should metaphorically scream, "This is not safe!"

Use of Task Manager to close pop-up messages more safely
http://msmvps.com/blogs/harrywaldron/archive/2008/08/22/malware-close-encounters-close-pop-ups-using-task-manager-to-safely-exit.aspx

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