Reading this may harm your computer: The psychology of malware warnings

David Modic, Ross Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Internet users face large numbers of security warnings, which they mostly ignore. To improve risk communication, warnings must be fewer but better. We report an experiment on whether compliance can be increased by using some of the social-psychological techniques the scammers themselves use, namely appeal to authority, social compliance, concrete threats and vague threats. We also investigated whether users turned off browser malware warnings (or would have, had they known how).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-79
Number of pages9
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Early online date30 Sep 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2014


  • Malware
  • Persuasion
  • Human computer interaction
  • Psychology


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