Brits trust the internet more than friends and colleagues when it comes to handing over personal information, according to a study published today by data storage specialists NetApp.
The research, which polled 3000 adults, revealed that while the average adult freely divulges a string of personal details on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, most would not give friends or colleagues their PIN number.
Despite 86 per cent of adults saying they would never hand over their PIN to someone they know, one in twenty people have their home address visible on a social networking sites.
Similarly, whilst only five per cent of people would let their best mate have access to their PIN number, 50 per cent of respondents have their relationship status visible online. 28 per cent also have their partner’s name visible and 20 per cent have the name of their employer visible online.
Unbelievably nearly two thirds of people also have their date of birth on networking sites which is always a security question when telephoning banks or building societies.
Speaking on the findings Paul Wooding, Head of UK Public Sector for NetApp comments: “It’s ironic that so many people are cautious with friends and family when it comes to security details, yet include really personal data on social networking sites.”
“It’s really alarming that people have so much confidential information like a home address available on their Facebook profile. As soon as you update your profile saying you are off on holiday all your hundreds of friends and now potentially anyone searching on Google, will know your home is empty for the next few weeks.”
The poll also revealed that a blasé seven per cent of people said that the whole point of social networking sites was so people can keep track of you and know what you’re up to.
Although a quarter of people did admit that the amount of information they had freely available on the World Wide Web did sometimes worry them.
But when it comes to our nearest and dearest it’s a different story, with less than half of people trusting their partner with their PIN number for their main cash card.
But it’s not just our friends who we don’t trust – three quarters of people said they do not trust the government with their personal data and more than two thirds also said that they feel that the government acts like Big Brother, and knows far too much about them.
For more than half of Brits (52 per cent) the biggest bone of contention is the government having access to our medical details.
The next big issue for respondents was data records on salaries, which 20 per cent objected to being held by the powers that be. One in twenty British adults were also sensitive about the government holding information on the amount of benefits we receive.
These issues were reflected in the concern around the security of government data shown by the poll. 78 per cent of those polled advised that incidents of public sector workers losing laptops containing personal data on members of the public worried them, with medical information and then salary information being the items they are most worried about being leaked.
A spokesman for NetApp added: “The risks of the government data being leaked or lost is minimal to the risks of security lapses on social networking sites. People need to look after themselves and really think about the information they make visible.”
“Technology today means that organisations are well equipped to be able to store and manage data effectively. The fear is perhaps heightened because of high profile cases of data breaches but in reality many of us are sharing very personal and sometimes sensitive information with the whole world without giving it much thought.”
INFORMATION PEOPLE DIVULGE ON NETWORKING SITES
Full name: 92 per cent
Hometown: 62 per cent
Date of Birth: 59 per cent
Relationship status: 49 per cent
Secondary school: 40 per cent
Marital status: 33 per cent
University/College: 30 per cent
Partners name: 28 per cent
Employer: 20 per cent
Job title: 18 per cent
Parental status: 17 per cent
Primary school: 16 per cent
Children’s names: 9 per cent
Full address: 5 per cent