Study: Facebook users willingly give out data;title

CNET reported on a recent study by Sophos about the web habits of Facebook users.  Their study found that 41-46% of users blindly accepted friend requests from two unknown people.  Sophos was then able to access "up to 89 percent of the users' full dates of birth, all of their e-mail addresses, where they went to school, and more."

From the study, "Ten years ago, getting access to this sort of detail would probably have taken a con-artist or an identify thief several weeks, and have required the on-the-spot services of a private investigator. Sadly, these days, many social networkers are handing over their life story on a plate."

Sophos also recommends the following Facebook practices, which are in line with those presented at the Institute's Security Awareness trainings:

  • Don't blindly accept friends. Treat a friend as the dictionary does, namely "someone whom you know, like and trust." A friend is not merely a button you click on. You don't need, and can't realistically claim to have, 932 true friends.
  • Learn the privacy system of any social networking site you join. Use restrictive settings by default. You can open up to true friends later. Don't give away too much too soon.
  • Assume that everything you reveal on a social networking site will be visible on the internet for ever. Once it has been searched, and indexed, and cached, it may later turn up on-line no matter what steps you take to delete it.

Remember, only you can protect your private information.  Be careful what you write and who can see it.