Facebook users warned of phishing dangers
41% happy to hand out personal data to strangers.
Research carried out by Sophos has found that 41% of users of hugely popular social networking site
Facebook risk revealing sensitive personal information to total strangers.
The study involved creating a user on the site under the name 'Freddi Staur' (an anagram of 'ID fraudster') and
contacting 200 randomly selected members of Facebook's 35-million-strong online community with a
'friend request', to which 87 users responded, many of them revealing email addresses, dates of birth, employment
information, home addresses and even phone numbers. Several provided complete resumes, while one even revealed
his mother's maiden name. The data thus gained could be invaluable to phishers, identity thieves and other
Sophos suggests that too many Facebook users fail to make use of the security features available,
leaving the fairly open default settings unchanged - a Facebook spokesperson told the Wall Street
Journal (in an article available to WSJ subscribers
here) that only 20% of users change the settings from the
defaults. Facebook also insists that it monitors its users' activities and regularly shuts down accounts
which appear to be abusing the system to gather potentially sensitive data, including it seems the fake 'Freddi
Details of the study from Sophos are
here, and a guide to securing
Facebook accounts is also provided,
identity theft, phishing, research, social networking, user education.
Posted on 14 August 2007 by Virus Bulletin.
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