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Fraud & Identity Theft

Americans Not Practicing Safe Social Networking

Americans Not Practicing Safe Social Networking

Americans Not Practicing Safe Social Networking

In addition to having incredibly poor online password habits, including the fact that 75 percent of individuals use the same password for Social networking and email, a new study has revealed, once again, how careless people really are online and how they are sharing more information than they really should.

According to the results of a survey released today, more 24 Million U.S. adults leave their profiles public and millions more reveal sensitive information that can potentially be very useful for cybercriminals.

According to the 2010 Social Network Fraud survey of 1,013 U.S. adults, conducted via telephone by Harris Interactive on behalf of ID Analytics this month, more than 24 million Americans age 18 or older leave their social network profiles mostly public.Sharing too Much On Social Networks

Millions more expose key pieces of identity information including date of birth, birthplace, and even current and previous addresses. Nearly 70 million U.S. adults on social networking sites share their birthplace on their profiles. Birthplace is one of the most common “security questions” asked by financial institutions to verify someone’s identity.

“People do not realize how they are exposing their identities and potentially sensitive financial information to fraudsters on social networking sites such as Facebook,” said Thomas Oscherwitz, chief privacy officer for ID Analytics, Inc. “Americans are also unknowingly sharing with fraudsters answers to common security questions posed by financial institutions to verify an identity including a pet’s name, their favorite book and music, or the color of their car. Consumers should realize that social networking sites provide fraudsters with a plethora of information that is ripe for the taking and take steps to protect themselves.”

Other highlights of the 2010 Social Network Fraud Survey include:

• Pets, a fraudster’s best friend? —Nearly 20 million Americans reveal their pets’ names on their social networks, another common security question asked to verify identities.

• Young continue to be more bold and revealing — Directionally*, 18 – 34 year-olds are most likely to reveal various personal information on social networking sites.

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• The gender gap—Overall men and women on social networking sites tend to share similar information about themselves. However, men are much more likely to share their current address than women. Men are also almost twice as likely to share photos of their car, while women are almost twice as likely to share pet names.

The survey was conducted by telephone within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of ID Analytics between October 15 and 18, 2010 among 1,013 U.S. adults, of whom 392 have joined social networking sites. This is a small sample size but according to other studies and reports, its clear that people are sharing far too much information with the world, including many who could use the information with malicious intent.

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Written By

For more than 15 years, Mike Lennon has been closely monitoring the threat landscape and analyzing trends in the National Security and enterprise cybersecurity space. In his role at SecurityWeek, he oversees the editorial direction of the publication and is the Director of several leading security industry conferences around the world.

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