By Thomas Claburn
April 16, 2008
Women are four times more likely than men to surrender their computer
passwords for chocolate, according to a survey of 576 office workers
conducted outside Liverpool Street Station in London by Infosecurity
According to the survey, 45% of women revealed their passwords to
strangers posing as market researchers for a chocolate bar, compared to
10% of men.
Apparently the overall percentage of password-yielding respondents this
year (21%) represents an improvement over 2007, when 64% of respondents
traded their security for a few moments of chocolaty goodness.
Infosecurity Europe made no mention of whether inducements tailored to
men, such as sports tickets, free beer, or explicit pictures, were
offered to test the possibility that the noted gender disparity might be
reversed under different circumstances.
However, the social engineering exercise did demonstrate that it is easy
to pry personal information -- names, dates of birth, telephone numbers
-- from respondents in exchange for a chance at a trip to Paris. "[W]ith
this incentive 60% of men and 62% of women gave us their contact
information," said Claire Sellick, event director at Infosecurity
Europe, in a statement.
"This research shows that it's pretty simple for a perpetrator to gain
access to information that is restricted by having a chat around the
coffee machine, getting a temporary job as a PA, or pretending to be
from the IT department," said Sellick. "This type of social engineering
technique is often used by hackers targeting a specific organization
with valuable data or assets such as a government department or a bank."
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