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90 Percent of People Ignore Important PC Security Warnings

rsz_90_percentWhat do you do when you get a popup window generated by some piece of software you use, informing you of a critical update? Do you stop what you’re doing right then and perform the needed update? Most people don’t, according to recent research. In fact, a full ninety percent of users simply close the window and carry on doing whatever it was they were doing.

Unfortunately, it could be weeks before they get around to getting the update they were notified about. That’s problematic because, of course, many programs are found to have serious security flaws, and running sans update opens you up to the risk of being hacked.

It’s not such a problem where the PCs in your office are concerned. Your IT staff can force updates to those systems in the middle of the night, or on every reboot. Unfortunately, the days of a corporate network being comprised entirely of permanently-tethered PCs is a thing of the past, and the security risks of having an un-patched device connected to your network are enormous.

There’s no easy solution here, but recent research indicates that the biggest reason users decline the update and close the window is that it invariably pops up when the user is busy doing something else. For instance, the study found that 74% of respondents said they ignored security messages when they were about to close their web browser. 79% said they ignored a message if it popped up while they were watching a video and 87% skipped the message while uploading files.

The lesson here is simple, and it’s one that’s not lost on big tech companies. Google has taken the early research results to heart and has begun exploring options, trying to determine when the best time to display update messages might be.

For starters, they’re experimenting with displaying update messages after a video finishes playing. It’s too soon to say for certain whether this play will result in people updating more regularly, but it’s a step in the right direction.

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