Just a few days ago, I cautioned that social networking is not a popularity contest. Just because someone asks to be your “friend” doesn’t mean that you should automatically agree. Apparently we need to share that message again as a new study by IT security firm Sophos reveals 41% if Facebook users gave up full access to their personal information to a fake user.
Sophos created a fake Facebook profile, under the name ‘Freddi Staur’ (‘ID Fraudster’ with the letters rearranged), and randomly requested 200 members to be friends with ‘Freddi.’ Out of those 200, 87 accepted the friend request and 82 of those gave ‘Freddi’ access to “personal information” such as e-mail addresses, dates of birth, addresses and phone numbers, and school or work data. Presumably, the other five had restricted ‘Freddi’ to limited profile access, which many users select for bosses, parents, or people they don’t know in real life.
OK, so giving a stranger access to your full Facebook profile may not result in your bank account being emptied, but there are real life dangers here. These are just some of the dangers…
- A local criminal makes friends with those in his area. He’ll be very happy to learn that you’ll be on vacation for a week and your house empty.
- Your daughter unknowlingly adds a pervert to her list of friends. Now he has photos, the school she attends, and knows she’ll be at a party Saturday night.
- You add a hacker to your list of friends and reveal you love anything connected with the Simpsons. You then get an email from your new “friend” with a great Bart Simpson “game” you should download.
If you do decide to add people you don’t know, make sure you’ve correctly configured your “limited” profile, and share only that information until you feel comfortable you know the person well enough.