BitDefender recently published the results of a study focusing on internet users who are thought to be the most security focused of all, IT professionals and criminal hackers. Yet, the company found that even those with technical backgrounds will disclose sensitive information to strangers met online.
If anything, the study hammers home the point that humans will always represent the weak link in the security chain. This includes the security savvy such as IT professionals and criminal hackers.
“The results suggest that, no matter which ‘side of the border’ respondents are on, human behaviour remains the same: as though the virtual environment were capable of creating a ‘second life’, governed by entirely different rules as compared to the real one... This seems to happen despite both categories of respondent being aware of the risks they would be taking if they engaged in this kind of interaction in real life,” the report explains.
Each set of experts interacted with a fake profile, created to represent an attractive woman, much like a previous experiment using a woman by the name of Robin Sage.
In the end, 75-percent of those contacted disclosed sensitive and personal information such as addresses, phone numbers, the names of parents and children, if they use the same password on multiple accounts, how their passwords are created, and in some cases passwords themselves.
The results demonstrate that “the Internet serves both as a meeting ground where people can present themselves and communicate, but also as a space where people develop an artificial idea of anonymity,” the report explains.
“...therefore, [they] may divulge too much, creating a second, very insecure life for themselves in the virtual environment.”
BitDefender’s research was presented at the Virus Bulletin Conference this month.