Facebook users easily reveal personal details, study shows


7 Dec 2009

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Facebook users may want to think less about making “friends” and more about privacy and security if a study by the security company Sophos is anything to go by.

A study by Sophos’ Australian team has found that Facebook users are too willing to give out their personal information.

The study was conducted to see how likely Facebook users were to offer up personal information by accepting fake friend requests set up by Sophos. Some 41-46pc of 100 users Sophos contacted "blindly accepted" friend requests from two fake Facebook users created by Sophos.

Personal details

In becoming "friends" with Sophos, users lay bare personal information they have on their profile pages. Sophos was able to access up to 89pc of the users’ full dates of birth, their e-mail addresses, where they went to school, and more. Half of all the users Sophos befriended displayed the town or suburb where they live and even offered up information on friends and relatives.

Younger users were "more liberal" with their workplace or school information than older users, Sophos found.

"Both groups were very liberal with their e-mail addresses and with their birthdays," Sophos wrote in a blog post Sunday announcing the results. "This is worrying because these details make an excellent starting point for scammers and social engineers."

Photo: About 41-46pc of 100 Facebook users "blindly accepted" friend requests from fake accounts set up by security firm Sophos.