The Thought Refuse

A Virtual Repository for the Mind

Beware The Malware

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Have you ever wondered why the spread of malware on home pcs has exploded alongside the explosion of the internet?  A research group from the Psychology Department at North Carolina State University conducted a study amoung college students on their handling of pop up windows while surfing the internet.  Not surprisingly, they found that the surfing habits were highly unsecure.

As reported by Ars Technica here, most users primary concern when dealing with pop ups is to remove said window from their view whether by clicking a confirmation button on the window or simply minimizing the window.  Using a standard Windows warning for program termination, the researchers created various alternate versions each containing warning signs indicating the windows were not native to the operating system.  The study finds that regardless of which window popped up, real or fake, more then half of all users clicked the OK button.

That’s an astounding success rate for malware installation.  And that success can be attributed to the users inattention to his surroundings.  Consider applying this to crossing the street.  There you are at the corner of Broadway and 42nd street in New York City.  You decide that you must cross either Broadway or 42nd immediately.  Without giving attention to the flow of traffic or the current state of the traffic light, you randomly plunge your body onto the street, your eyes fixated on the opposing street corner.

I’d wager that it’s more probable for you to unwittingly install malware onto your home computer in your haste to close a pop up window, as it is for you to blindly cross a street in Time Square without injury.   Only a clearly insane individual would be content with a coin flips chance at successfully choosing the pedestrian crossing with the red light.  Yet, we will glady risk our computer’s health on a 50-50 chance.

Clearly, we value the state of our own well being over a collection of silicon transistors.  So, it’s simply a matter in internet education.  The internet swept across every modernized society spanning this planet.  It’s wonder and breadth are spectacular, but it’s dangers are equally fantastic.  Most people have no idea what a botnet is or what a botnet is capable of.

The growing influence and necessity of the internet in the daily operation of our lives are reaching a point in which the prospect of the internet becoming inoperable for an extended time period looms as an utterly debilitating disaster.  There’s a simple way to educate people on malware dangers.  For every download and installation of a web browser, a simple internet surfing safety tutorial would come on screen.  In order to use the browser, completion of the tutorial would be necessary.  If users don’t want to educate themselves, programmers need to bring the education to them.


Written by huxbux

September 23, 2008 at 6:05 pm

Posted in Technology

Tagged with , ,

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