Vienna University of Technology (VUT) researchers, studying security issues related to social networking websites, were able to match more than 1.2 million social network profiles with their corresponding private email addresses. "Even if my email address is supposed to be kept secret and it is not visible in my profile, the website still uses it to identity my profile," says VUT researcher Christian Platzer.
The researchers developed software to match email addresses with active user profiles on various social networks, and to find more users using the different "friends" lists. User groups also pose a major risk because malicious websites can identify a user based on the list of groups the user has joined.
"Of course we were very careful in our research project not to harm the websites and not to violate the privacy of users in any way," says VUT researcher Gilbert Wondraschek. "We only evaluated the data scientifically—but malicious attackers could indeed do quite a lot of harm with data like that."
From Vienna University of Technology
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