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World's Worst Font a Boon to Hackers

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Ars Technica's John Timmer puts it best: "Study after study has shown that users are the weak link when it comes to security." We are the ones making the mistake of putting private information directly into the hands of online scammers. While their ruses may have grown mighty convincing, it's still up to us to double-check the authenticity of banking login screens and correspondence from international royalty.

But while professionalism and a polished image seem to be the likeliest components in inspiring trust, a recent study by the Journal of Consumer Research suggests a dumbed-down, folksy image is better at influencing behavior.

Certainly explains the rise of Tea Party membership.

The experiment placed participants before two survey websites. One had a polished, official look with a Carnegie Mellon University seal beside the heading "Carnegie Mellon University Executive Council Survey on Ethical Behaviors." The other featured the title "How BAD Are U???" and a healthy dose of Comic Sans.

On looks alone, the majority of the subjects pointed to the official-looking page as more trustworthy to handle personal information. The experiment, however, told a different story. Timmer writes:
Depending on the question, participants who used the How Bad ARE U version admitted to unethical or embarrassing activities at a rate of 1.74 to 1.98 times that of those who were given the professional version. In a separate survey, participants rated the same questions as less intrusive if they were presented in Comic Sans -- even though there was no difference in the ratings of the activity's social desirability between the two survey populations. In short, an unprofessional-looking interface seemed to loosen participants up in the same manner that approaching a question indirectly did.
So everyone should start being wary of emails and websites written in Comic Sans that present facts or ask for information.

Though when that happens, would go out of business.
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