94% of Internet users befriend unknown 'good-looking woman'

Posted by   Virus Bulletin on   Aug 31, 2010

Sensitiva data shared after two-hour chat.

Research from BitDefender has shown that the vast majority of users of social network sites are willing to befriend an unknown, 21-year-old, fair-haired woman; many of them even shared sensitive data that could be used to steal passwords.

The researchers created the fake profile on a popular social networking site and sent a friendship request to 2,000 people (as many males as females). A small number of people accepted the request immediately, but after some persuasion, a staggering 94% of people ultimately befriended the unknown face. Among the reasons for doing so were that the woman had 'a lovely face' (53%), or that she worked in the same industry (24%). 17% of people even claimed that she had a known face, but 'couldn't remember the place they met'.

Perhaps even more surprising was that 86% of those who accepted the friendship request were working in IT; 31% even in IT security, an industry that has been stressing the risks of using social networking sites for many years.

The researchers continued their study posing as the fair-haired woman and had a two-hour written conversation with a small sample of their 'victims'. During this conversation, most victims revealed information such as their address, phone numbers or the names of their parents and pets; information that can be used to change passwords and steal identities. Many users also revealed sensitive business information.

The full report can be found here (PDF), with comments from Help Net Security here.

Posted on 31 August 2010 by Virus Bulletin

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