Failure to recognize fake internet popup warning messages

“Warning, your computer is infected with spyware. Windows needs to download and install the anti-spyware updates to remedy this issue. Click OK to begin.” This is just one example of many popup warnings that spyware and malware creators use to try to mislead unsuspecting Internet users into downloading potentially harmful software. Falling prey to an illegitimate message could produce negative consequences that vary from bothersome computer performance to complete system failure. The purpose of this study was to determine which visual design cues, if any, would alert people to the illegitimacy of fake popup warning windows while browsing the Internet. Results indicated that most people did not behave in a cautious manner upon presentation of three different fake popup warning windows. Implications of the research are discussed.