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March 29, 2010

Social network users savvier about safeguarding information, but still take risks: Webroot Research

Spam on social networks up 23% on year ago

By CBR Staff Writer

Social network users are taking steps to protect their privacy as the amount of activity on social networks continues to grow, but they still put their identities and sensitive information at risk, according to a new research commissioned by internet security software firm Webroot.

Webroot’s second annual study surveyed more than 1,100 members of Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter and other popular social networks.

The study showed that there is an increase of 37% of users practicing certain safe behaviours, including blocking their profiles from being visible through public search engines. More than a quarter of respondents have never changed their default privacy settings, while more than three quarters place no restrictions on who can see their recent activity.

In addition, the study also found that spam on social networks, which commonly contains links to malicious web site links, rose by 23% compared to last year.
Webroot said that users are sharing information such as birthday, hometown, cell phone and photo albums that could hackers breach their profiles.

According to the study, younger users (ages 18-29) are the least likely to take steps to safeguard their information. Privacy settings continue to be underutilised with 28% of users reporting that they’ve never changed their default privacy settings.

However, modest gains are being made toward safeguarding personal information on social networks. 27% of users now restrict who can find their profile through a public search engine, up from 20% last year and 67% now use different passwords for each of their social networks, up from 64% last year.

Webroot recommends users to update privacy settings to restrict access to personal data, be exclusive, use different passwords for different sites and protect PCs with internet security suite that includes antivirus, antispyware, and firewall technologies.

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