Chrome Users Fail to Heed SSL Warnings

Researchers find Google Chrome users click through SSL warnings far more often than Firefox users.

A new report released by a Google researcher in conjuncture with a University of California graduate student has found that SSL warnings are less effective with Chrome users than they are with Firefox users.

Google Chrome may be borrowing some features currently used by Mozilla Firefox in order to reduce the rate at which users click through SSL warnings. The researchers wrote in their report that “Google Chrome users are 2.1 times more likely to click through an SSL warning than Mozilla Firefox users.” There are many reasons identified as potential causes for this difference. Firefox utilizes a stylized policeman and the word “untrusted” which may better help stop users from proceeding. Firefox also requires users to click three times in order to bypass the warning as opposed to Chrome’s single click setup.

However, it may also be a factor of the browsers skewing their own results. Chrome’s use of “certificate pinning” may be contributing to the high rate of click-throughs. This pinning makes about 20% of all Chrome’s SSL warnings impassible. Only 1% of Firefox SSL warning are unable to be bypassed. The result is a lower number of SSL warnings for Firefox users than Chrome users. More warnings means a higher click-through rate and vice versa. Firefox also allows users to permanently accept a website as safe, removing the SSL warning, a feature currently lacking in Google Chrome.

Despite these skewing factors, the difference between the two browsers remains wide and evident. As a result of the study, Google is planning to test several new features in Chrome such as an exception-remembering feature as well as a number of other improvements. Their hope is the changes will cut down on the “warning fatigue” experienced by many users who see these warnings so many times that they begin to ignore them.

Original article by Jack Clark.
Read the full story here.

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