Social media users 'finally waking up' to cyber attack threats, study finds


High-profile cyber attacks are making social media users recognise the importance of account security, new research claims.

According to online security firm Eset, more than two-thirds (68%) of UK social media users have taken steps to improve the privacy settings on their various accounts, including changing to a stronger password and not using the same password across multiple accounts.

Among a range of high-profile breaches, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter founder Jack Dorsey have both had social media accounts compromised this year.

Mark James, security specialist at Eset said: "The findings from our study show that UK social media users are finally waking up to the dangers that exist online, and the fact that there are people out there who are specifically looking to compromise their data.

"Data is the currency of the 21st century and cybercriminals are constantly looking at new ways to get their hands on it. However, as consumers become more privacy conscious, this becomes a more difficult job for hackers, which, in my opinion, can only be a good thing."

75% of those surveyed said they believed privacy on social media was more important than popularity, while 81% said they did not use passwords that were related to their personal lives, such as birthdays or anniversary dates.

The research also highlighted a divide between men and women, with women found to be alert to the importance of privacy - only 29% had never taken steps to use different passwords on different accounts, compared to more than a third (36%) of men.

"While the results of our study show that many people are beginning to take privacy more seriously, we cannot overlook the fact that there are still a number of people out there getting it wrong, who could therefore be putting themselves at risk," Mr James said.

"My advice to them would be start improving your online privacy and security now, before it is too late. This includes taking simple steps like ensuring you use a different password for all your online accounts and updating the privacy settings on the social media accounts you use so photos and posts are not public."