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Dialog box

Dialog box definition

A dialog box is a small window that pops up on a screen with which a user interacts to complete a task. Dialog boxes usually appear in response to a user action, such as clicking on a button or choosing a menu option. They’re used for:

  • Confirmations. To confirm user actions, such as saving or deleting a file. It will typically include a message like “Are you sure you want to delete this file?” along with “OK” and “Cancel” buttons.
  • Notifications. To alert users about important events or situations, such as low battery warnings or system updates.
  • Errors. These dialog boxes often provide information about what went wrong and how to fix it.
  • Input. To request information or settings from the user. For example, a dialog box might appear asking for a filename when you save a file.

Dialog boxes typically remain on the screen until the user has interacted with them.

See also: clickjacking, scareware

Threats associated with dialog boxes

Dialog boxes are generally a helpful tool. However, they can be used for various attacks:

  • Phishing. Malicious actors can create fake dialog boxes that look like legitimate requests for sensitive information, such as usernames, passwords, or credit card numbers. If a user enters this information, it can be sent to the attacker.
  • Clickjacking. This is a technique where an attacker overlays a transparent, malicious layer over what appears to be a legitimate page or dialog box. When users interact with what they think is the legitimate page, they interact with the malicious layer.
  • Malware installation. For example, a dialog box might pop up claiming that the user's computer is infected and offer to download an antivirus program, which is malware.
  • Scareware. Some dialog boxes may contain fake warnings or error messages to scare users into taking action, such as paying for unnecessary software or services.