Consumer advice

Beware: Identity Thieves Harvest Social Networks

A third of social networkers have at least three pieces of information visible on their profiles that could make them vulnerable to ID theft, says the security firm Webroot.

Research by the U.K. security software firm revealed that 78 percent of Brits are concerned about the privacy of information on their social networks such as Facebook and MySpace.

However, despite these concerns 59 percent of social networkers are unsure of who can see their profile while 78 percent have profiles that are visible in a Google search.

A further 36 percent admitted that they didn't hide any of their personal information from people viewing their profile and 28 percent said they accepted 'friend requests' from strangers.

A third of social networkers also said they used the same passwords for all of their online accounts.

"The growth of social networks presents hackers with a huge target. The amount of time spent on communities like Facebook last year grew at three times the rate of overall Internet growth," said Mike Kronenberg, chief technology officer of Webroot's consumer business.

"Hackers lure users into taking actions they shouldn't by making it appear as if a friend within their social network has sent them a message - only the message is from a hacker who's hijacked the friend's account."

Kronberg said the first step to staying protected was for social networkers to make themselves aware of threats are and know how to help prevent them.

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See also: Webroot Internet Security Essentials review

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