Too many disclose sensitive information on social networks

Social networking users should be careful when accepting friend requests and to be conscious of the data they share.

According to a new study by BitDefender, social network users do not appear to be preoccupied with the real identity of the people they meet online or about the details they disclose while chatting with total strangers.

The study revealed that 94 percent of those asked to “friend” the test profile, an unknown, attractive young woman, accepted the request without knowing who the requester really was.

The study sample group included 2,000 users from all over the world registered on one of the most popular social networks. These users were randomly chosen in order to cover different aspects: sex (1,000 females, 1,000 males), age (the sample ranged from 17 to 65 years with a mean age of 27.3 years), professional affiliation, interests etc.

In the first step, the users were only requested to add the unknown test profile as their friend, while in the second step several conversations with randomly selected users aimed to determine what kind of details they would disclose.

The study showed:

  • More than 86 percent of the users who accepted the test-profile’s friend request work in the IT industry, of which 31 percent work in IT Security
  • The most frequent reason for accepting the test profile’s friend request was her “lovely face” (53 percent)
  • After a half an hour conversation, 10 percent disclosed personal sensitive information, such as: address, phone number, mother’s and father’s name, etc – information usually requested as answers to password recovery questions
  • Two hours later, 73 percent siphoned what appears to be confidential information from their workplace, such as future strategies, plans, as well as unreleased technologies/software.

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