News & Views - Savantor

Social Security

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Many people are now members of social networking internet groups such as myspace and Facebook.  Whilst these are a great means of keeping in touch with friends it is also an increasingly fruitful source of information for fraudsters who wish to steal id details.  Facebook profiles already typically provide more than enough personal information to allow fraudsters to steal identities and establish fraudulent bank accounts.  Research from Sophos found that 41% of Facebook users are happy to reveal personal information to anyone.  The researchers created a false Facebook profile which gave out hardly any personal information but sent out 200 friend requests to a random group of people.  The results were alarming.

  • 87 of the 200 Facebook users contacted responded to with 82 leaking personal information (41% of those approached)
  • 72% of respondents divulged one or more email address
  • 84% listed their full date of birth
  • 87% provided details about their education or workplace
  • 78% listed their full current address
  • 23% listed their current phone number
  • 26% provided their instant messaging screen name

When the same people also start helpfully revealing things like their first pet's name, mother's maiden name etc, it starts to get serious.

It remains to be seen whether banks will address this threat to their customers' privacy by tightening their security procedures. At the moment banks are beginning to experiment with Facebook as a tool to assist with the recruitment process. They are finding it a useful way to gain additional insights into candidates they are thinking of hiring.  Whilst this may be a useful source of background information it is also in banks interests to warn customers – particularly those in the Facebook target age groups – that revealing too much information is not a good idea.  Fraudsters are far more likely to sift through sites like Facebook than they are to sift through your bin for old credit card statements!

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