Internet users are struggling to tell the difference between genuine and malicious pop-ups, according to a new report.

Research conducted by North Carolina State University found that participants clicked on a ‘fake’ pop-up advertisement 63% of the time with the majority of users clicking ‘OK’ without reading the message itself.

The study highlights the vulnerability of even experienced users to the threats posed by pop-up advertisements, given that pop-ups are one of the most common methods for malicious software to access a PC system.

Adware and Spyware are particularly common forms of malware which are transmitted using pop-up technology.

Research co-author Michael Wogalter, professor of psychology at North Carolina State University, warned users to read all pop-ups before acting.

“This study demonstrates how easy it is to fool people on the web,” he said.

“Be suspicious when things pop up. Don’t click OK – close the box instead.”

Tony Neate, managing director of the UK’s Get Safe Online campaign advised users to install a pop-up blocker and antivirus system.

“Browsers and most anti-virus software offers them. Pop-ups are either downloading something malicious or trying to sell me something so I just don’t want them there at all,” he said.

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to our top stories.

If you want to subscribe to our monthly newsletter, please submit the form below.