Security Newswire

Study Reveals How Online Behavior Leaves Consumers Vulnerable to Identity Theft

June 23, 2010
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The use of social media can increase consumer vulnerability to identity theft because of the amount and type of personal information people share on these networks. However, consumers do little or nothing to protect themselves, according to a study conducted by the Ponemon Institute.
Although more than 80 percent of study respondents expressed concern about their security while using social media, more than half of these same individuals admitted they do not take any steps to actively protect themselves. This data demonstrates that while people may acknowledge that security is important, many do nothing to protect their information online.
Other key findings from the survey include:
  • Approximately 65 percent of users do not set high privacy or security settings in their social media sites.
  • More than 90 percent of users do not review a given Website's privacy policy before engaging in use.
  • Approximately 40 percent of all respondents share their physical home address through social media applications. Surprisingly, people who have been victims of identity theft are just as likely to be lax in securing their personal information online.
Study results from identity theft victims and non-victims are virtually identical. Even though most respondents expressed concern about online security and privacy, nearly 90 percent did not feel that identity theft is a likely risk from using social media sites. Accordingly, individuals continue to use social media despite acknowledged potential dangers. In addition, the study revealed:
  • More than 60 percent of users are either not confident or unsure of their social media provider's ability to protect their identity
  • Approximately 44 percent of individuals said if they discovered that a social media provider did not adequately protect their privacy or security, they would continue to use the site
  • Nearly 60 percent of respondents are either not confident or unsure that their network of social media friends only includes people they know and can trust
  • Minimize risk to protect valuable information - One alarming study result showed that while consumers recognize the importance of online privacy and security, most are not taking important protective measures to help guard their personal information. 
  • Approximately 65 percent of users do not use a high privacy or security setting.

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