Almost a third (30%) of social network users share their posts, check-ins and other personal info with everybody who is online – not just their friends. This is leaving the door wide open for cyber-criminals to attack, as users remain unaware of just how public their private information can be on these channels.
Despite over three quarters (78%) of Internet users having a social media account, a quiz from Kaspersky Lab points to a distinct lack of awareness amongst social media users. One in 10 (9%) quiz respondents didn’t think people outside of their friends list could be seeing their pages and posts, making it easy for their personal information to fall into the wrong hands, or even be used by criminals for identity theft and financial fraud.
The research found that users are putting themselves in danger when adding friends, with a surprising 12% admitting adding anyone to their list – regardless of whether they know them or not. A third (31%) of users will also accept connections from people they don’t know, if they have mutual friends in common, although this could expose them to more unknown people – even advertisement agents or cybercriminals.
When it comes to trusting their “friends”, a quarter (26%) of those surveyed would have no hesitation to click on a link sent by a friend without asking what it is, or considering the possibility that the sender’s account has been hacked.
“Social network users are playing a dangerous game by not being cyber-savvy and essentially giving strangers easy access to their personal details and private information,” says David Emm, principal security researcher at Kasperky Lab. With social media profiles containing a raft of insight – from birthdays through to addresses and holiday plans – it wouldn’t take much digging for a cybercriminal to find and exploit valuable information, or steal your identity for their own gain. This is even easier if you have unwittingly made them your friend.”
To ensure that social network sharing doesn’t leave users exposed to danger, Kaspersky Lab advises people to be cautious about whom they befriend and trust on these sites, as all might not be as it seems. The company adds that users shouldn’t accept a friend request or click on a link they are not expecting. It is also essential that privacy settings within social network accounts are at their highest, to ensure that status updates are only shared with real friends.