JUST 10 PER CENT of people respond to and deal with desktop security alerts immediately, suggesting that the rest of the population simply ignores them or just lets it happen automatically. Hopefully.
You know the sort of warning. It might be Chrome telling you that something is untrusted, something like that. They are very easy to become blind to, like cookie warnings for example, and the study, which comes from Brigham Young University (BYU) and Google engineers, said that most people just ignore them.
The study, entitled More Harm Than Good? How Messages That Interrupt Can Make Us Vulnerable, suggests that this seeming neglect is down to the fact that people can only do so many things at once.
"System-generated alerts are ubiquitous in personal computing and, with the proliferation of mobile devices, daily activity. While these interruptions provide timely information, research shows they come at a high cost in terms of increased stress and decreased productivity," the study said.
"This is due to dual-task interference, a cognitive limitation in which even simple tasks cannot be simultaneously performed without significant performance loss."
Multitasking, then. People struggle to comprehend alerts because they are busy closing windows, stopping videos, typing or uploading at their desk or while mobile. Some 87 per cent showed the most disregard when "transferring information".
The researchers explained things better in an interview with Phys.org. "We found that the brain can't handle multitasking very well," said co-author and BYU information systems professor Anthony Vance.
"Software developers categorically present these messages without any regard to what the user is doing. They interrupt us constantly and our research shows there's a high penalty that comes by presenting these messages at random times."
A better time to alert, according to the researchers, is at more passive times, for example while punters are waiting for a page to load or have finished watching a video.
"Waiting to display a warning when people are not busy doing something else increases their security behaviour substantially," said Jeff Jenkins, lead author of the study. µ
Tabs to more Ctrl and less Win. Such Fn.
Either that or it's a really intense holiday