It’s Not OK to Click “OK”

If you are a user of Microsoft’s Windows operating system, you no doubt are very familiar with the popup dialogue boxes that are so frequently displayed on your screen.  These popup windows were designed to inform you when an event occurs that requires your attention or input.  These popup windows occur even more frequently with Windows Vista which by default asks for your permission before running applications that require administrative privileges.  This is a good thing from a security perspective, but a bad thing from an annoyance perspective.

As a result, computer users have become accustomed to simply clicking “OK” to every popup window they are presented with.  A recent study conducted by researchers at North Carolina State University found that two-thirds of the participants in the study would click “OK” to any popup window presented to them, even ones that were fake.  Furthermore, the study found that most Internet users have a difficult time distinguishing between real and fake popup windows.

This fact is not lost on Internet scammers.  If you have surfed the web for any length of time at all you have likely encountered a fake popup dialogue box such as the one below:

These fake popup windows are generally designed to install malware on your system.  There are several things you can do to protect yourself.  First, always run up-to-date antivirus and antispyware software.  Second, enable the popup blocker option in your browser.  This is available in both Firefox and Internet Explorer.  Third, take the time to read the message.  Familiarize yourself with real popup dialogue boxes so that you can tell the difference between these and fake ones.  If you are presented with a popup window while actively surfing the web it is most likely a fake intended to do your system harm.  Do not click the “OK” button unless you are sure of its authenticity and understand what you are agreeing to. If not, close the window by clicking the “X” in the top right hand corner of the dialogue box or by using the Windows task bar.  And if it happens to be one of those persistent popups that just doesn’t want to go away, you should close and restart your browser.

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