Crime risk warning to users of social networking sites
One in four users of social networking sites unwittingly leave themselves open to crime by revealing personal details, it was claimed today.
A poll marking the launch of an internet safety campaign also disclosed what many addicts of sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Friends Reunited already suspected - up to 39% of people use them to look up old flames.
Government-backed research for the Get Safe Online week found 25% of the 10.8 million Britons registered with networking websites expose information such as contact details or dates of birth on their online "profiles".
Among 18 to 24-year-olds the proportion putting themselves at risk of identity fraud rises to 34%.
The poll of 2,000 adults conducted by ICM found 29% admitted searching for former boyfriends or girlfriends, with the 25 to 34 age group most likely to hunt out their exes, at 39%.
Nearly one in three people has also used the sites to find out about their boss, colleagues or a job candidate.
The survey showed 13% of social networkers had posted information or photos about other people without their consent, rising to 27% of 18 to 24s.
Cabinet Office minister Gillian Merron said: "The risks we are highlighting today can be easily fixed and do not mean that people should stop using social networking sites and wireless networks.
"People simply need to take a few basic steps and simple precautions which they can find by going to www.getsafeonline.org to help keep themselves, their families and their businesses safe online."
Tony Neate, managing director of GetSafeOnline.org, said: "Although some of these details may seem harmless, they actually provide rich pickings for criminals.
"Your date of birth and where you live is enough for someone to set up a credit card in your name.
"So whilst most people wouldn't give this information to a stranger in real life, they will happily post it online where people they don't know can see it."
Wireless networks also provide opportunities for criminals.
Users of home "wi-fi" who leave their systems unsecured - estimated to number about 7.8 million people - could allow criminals to hijack their computer, adapt its programs and steal information held on it, warned the campaign, which is a joint initiative between the Government, the Serious Organised Crime Agency and industry sponsors.
The poll also found 15% of people do not use any privacy settings on social networking sites.
And almost one in four (24%) people use the same password for all websites.
Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift
Like Madonna, Sister Cristina Scuccia's video is also set in Venice
Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'
techThe original free dating app will remain the same, developers say
Endangered species spotted in a creek in the Qinling mountains
Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets
Some experiencing postnatal depression don't realise there is a problem. What can be done?
Ukraine crisis: Donetsk 'tactical missile' explosion at factory sends blast wave across rebel-held city
Jack the Ripper: Scientist who claims to have identified notorious killer has 'made serious DNA error'
Oscar de la Renta dead: Legendary US fashion designer dies after long cancer battle aged 82
Banksy arrest hoax: Internet duped by fake report claiming street artist's identity has been revealed
Super-sized ships arrive in Britain: How big can they get?
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
Lord Freud: Tory welfare minister apologises after saying disabled people are 'not worth’ the minimum wage
Lord Freud hangs on as MPs of all parties 'call for his head' over disability comments
- 1 Jack the Ripper: Scientist who claims to have identified notorious killer has 'made serious DNA error'
- 2 Banksy arrest hoax: Internet duped by fake report claiming street artist's identity has been revealed
- 3 Drink alcohol and eat meat to improve male fertility - but cut down on coffee, studies suggest
- 4 Former East 17 frontman Brian Harvey turns up at Downing Street and 'demands to speak to Prime Minister'
- 5 The inventor of the Facebook 'like' button says he never made a 'dislike' button because he feared the 'unfortunate consequences'