Social media sharing leaves users easy target for cybercriminals: study

Kaspersky Lab survey shows users unaware of just how public their private information can be online

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Social media sharing leaves users easy target for cybercriminals: study Many social media users seem oblivious to dangers of oversharing.
By  David Ndichu Published  January 7, 2016

A quiz from Kaspersky Lab has found that 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 leaves the door wide open for cybercriminals 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, the quiz showed a distinct lack of awareness amongst social media users. One in ten (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. 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,” comments David Emm, Principal Security Researcher at Kaspersky Lab.

To ensure social network sharing doesn’t leave you exposed to danger, Kaspersky Lab advises Internet users to be cautious about whom they befriend and trust on these sites, as all might not be as it seems. If in doubt, they should not accept a friend request or click on a link that they are not expecting. It is also essential that privacy settings within social network accounts are at their highest, to ensure it is only real friends users are sharing status updates with.

Along with vigilance, security software makes it possible to protect users’ digital life against Internet threats and safeguard your privacy and identity, the company says.

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