London may not have a reputation for being the most friendly city in the country - after all, residents can barely stand to look at each other on public transport - yet Londoners are inclined to disclose far more information about themselves on social media, compared to people living in other regions of the country.
According to a study by PCI Pal, those living in the capital are most likely to accept unsolicited friend requests, download and open unverified email attachments, as well as use public Wi-Fi networks to make purchases, pay a bill or check their bank accounts, compared to others.
In advance of the peak Black Friday and Christmas shopping seasons, the findings of the study also delve into peoples’ attitudes regarding their personal data security practices and, found that despite numerous warnings, over a quarter (26%) of all respondents use the same password for multiple websites – with 49% of people from London agreeing to this, compared to just 16% in East Anglia. Almost half (46%) of those aged 35-44 admitted to using the same passwords for multiple sites.
And despite the rise of mobile payment apps, just under three-quarters (69%) of all respondents say they would not feel comfortable paying via a mobile app, SMS or web-chat. When looking at regions, this increases to 84% of those in the East, 82% in the South West and 78% in Yorkshire and the Humber.
In contrast, those from London said they feel either extremely (20%) or moderately (27%) comfortable with paying via a mobile app, SMS or webchat.
Meanwhile, 38% of Londoners and 36% of those from the South East have their date of births publicly visible on social media; and 36% of Londoners openly publish their education history and 11% have shared their pets’ names.
Some 79% of all respondents say they never accept unsolicited friend requests on social media – although this figure increases to 90% of those from Yorkshire and Humber and 88% of those from the North West of England who are more wary; in contrast 40% of Londoners said they have accepted unknown friend requests on social media.
Over a third (38%) of Londoners have also admitted to opening unverified links or downloading attachments for both work and personal accounts, however, 94% of those in Yorkshire and Humber, and 91% of respondents in both the North West and the South West have said they have never done this.
All respondents are most likely to share the following information over the phone: name (71%), email address (57%) and home address (49%). 65% of respondents say they would only give this information if they called the person/organisation.
Face to face transactions remain the firm favourite, with 80% of people preferring to pay in person using a credit or debit card, closely followed by 79% of those wishing to pay in person, using cash.
PCI Pal chief information security officer Geoff Forsyth said that despite the many warnings and news stories relating to high profile data breaches, scams or hacks, there is still some way to go to educate people into the dos and don’ts of securing their personal data.
"Many consumers continue to reveal their full names, dates of birth, employment history – even their pets’ names – and this type of data may provide hackers with an unfair advantage, while making consumers unnecessarily vulnerable to potential data security risks.
"Our advice would be to lock-down your personal data wherever possible. Use password manager software to ensure a unique password for each website you visit – that way, if one site is compromised, the hackers cannot access your other accounts. Do not share sensitive information on public Wi-Fi networks such as libraries and coffee shops.
"And, if shopping online or over the phone for Black Friday or Cyber Monday this year, make sure the website shows a security padlock and ask telephone advisors how they process card payments."