Social networking users fail to change their passwords or adjust their privacy settings, as they are more vulnerable than ever

Social networking users are more vulnerable than ever and taking more risks with their online privacy.

According to the ‘Bringing Social Security to the Online Community' poll by AVG, while the social networking community has serious concerns about the overall security of public spaces, few are taking the most basic of steps to protect themselves against online crimes.

Participants indicated concern over growing phishing, spam and malware attacks, and nearly half of those surveyed are very concerned about their personal identity being stolen in an online community.

Despite widespread use of social networks at home and/or at work, 64 per cent of users infrequently or never change their passwords on a regular basis, while 57 per cent infrequently or never adjust their privacy settings.

Further, 21 per cent accept contact offerings from members they do not recognise, more than half let acquaintances or roommates access social networks on their machines, 64 per cent click on links offered by community members or contacts and 26 per cent share files within social networks.

As a result of this widespread proliferation of links, files and unsolicited contacts, nearly 20 per cent have experienced identity theft, 47 per cent have been victims of malware infections and 55 per cent have seen phishing attacks.

Siobhan MacDermott, head of public policy, corporate communications and investor relations at AVG Technologies, said: “The fact that users understand the risks, and yet are failing to take the basic steps to protect themselves presents an interesting challenge to companies, like AVG, that are working to create a safer cyber community.”

Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council, co-author of the poll, said: “More frequent breaches and outbreaks on popular social sites are a testament to the need for a more preventative mindset and threat-alert culture among community users.”

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