Less security alerts taken into account

Less security alerts taken into account

Indifference to security alerts is growing among web users.

Computer security alerts shall be less effective when they interrupt a task. Thus, according to a study published in August 2016 on computer psychology, 87% of Internet users do not take into account warning windows, mainly because they appear at the wrong time, when they are into something else. According to some research by five US researchers in psychology, neuroscience and computer science at the universities of Brigham Young University and Pittsburgh, computer alerts are much less effective when they happen to be set without considering the user’s activity, which is generally the case.

When we talk about updating your OS version or launching an anti-virus software update for a periodic analysis, it turns out that these notifications disrupt the activity of the Internet user who tends to stop them or to postpone them. After several tasks were performed on a computer by a panel of 850 people whose activity was interrupted by alert messages, scientists saw significant variations in the attitudes of the people. Thus, when some of them were performing actions requiring strong attention (writing a text, watching a video …), more than 70% of them ignored the notification, with up to 87% for those who were already browsing between two windows, or doing some copy and paste activities from one window to another. Indeed, the same experience revealed that 60 to 80% of the tested people took into account the alert appearing at less active moments (loading or opening a page, finishing watching a video), or when the user had completed his activity.

The same scientists had already analyzed such behavior two years before, which they call “indifference to alert messages”. They thus hope that this experience will allow those working in the IT security field to be more careful of users’ activity to ensure that such security alert messages are taken into account. It is necessary to say that we are beset with security messages: one must in fact regularly update the OS of its mobile devices, find and memorize many passwords that shall combine many characteristics (numbers, letter in lowercase and capitals, special characters…) it is endless and tiresome at the end. So, a security alert telling you to update your password or schedule a scan of your PC can have a completely opposite effect. An American study even talks about safety fatigue, showing that we are more negligent about the safety of our aircraft.

That’s how Mark Zuckerberg for instance had his Twitter and Pinterest accounts been hacked, as he was using the same basic password for both accounts! Nevertheless, such behavior is dramatic. Online security is a real concern, given the frequency and volume of hacks from e-commerce sites, banks, social media and other sites which cause a large number of passwords to fall into the hands of cybercriminals. Thus, during the first 9 months of 2016, more than 500 million passwords were hacked, according to a new study by LastPass, a password management software company. Be sure to perform security updates as soon as your device notifies you. Also ensure not to use the same passwords on different accounts (email, social media …) and use a VPN to ensure your online security.

A VPN is the best way to secure your internet connections and to ensure that noone can spy on or trace your online activities. So, even if your connection is intercepted, as the data you transfer are being encrypted, they will be extremely difficult to read and understand for any cybercriminal whatsoever.

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