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Men engage in more ‘risky online behavior’ than women, study shows

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Be careful out there, guys. According to a new study conducted by Internet security firm Bitdefender, men are more likely to fall victim to data theft on social networks like Facebook and Twitter than women.

In the survey, Bitdefender interviewed 1,649 men and women from the US and the UK about their social media habits. The study found that 64.2 percent of women always reject friend requests from users they do not know. Men only reject requests from strangers 55.4 percent of the time.

Additionally, 24.5 percent of men make it possible to search for their accounts, while only 16 percent of women do so. And a near equal amount of men (25.6 percent) share their location on social networks, while 21.8 percent of women make their location known.

The study also found that American men are slightly more likely than men in the UK to engage is this type of “risky online behavior,” which makes those who do any of the things listed above more vulnerable to data theft.

“Men expose themselves to risks more than women, especially when accepting friendship from unknown persons,” said George Petre, Bitdefender Senior Social Media Security Researcher, in a statement. “On a positive note, the survey also showed that only about a quarter of users are willing to share their location on social networks, which makes location disclosure an important privacy concern for all users. However, most social network applications, especially the mobile ones, are designed to share this information by default, which opens the door to embarrassing if not truly dangerous situations.”

As we reported earlier this week, a team of researchers at the University of British Columbia Vancouver was able to “steal” 46,500 email addresses, and more than 14,500 home addresses from Facebook users by friending them with accounts run by “socialbots.” A socialbot can be purchased for about $29. In addition, another report found that posting your location online isn’t just used for data theft, but also by four out of five thieves looking to break into homes when people are away.

So remember: posting your location online is a terrible idea. And so is accepting friend requests from strangers. Don’t do either, if you want to keep your identity protected.

Updated with additional contextual information at 3pm ET

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