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New survey reveals ‘stranger danger’ risks over 50s take online

A new study carried out by cybersecurity firm McAfee has revealed the risks older people are taking on social networks.

Of the 1,258 Americans aged 50-75 surveyed, a stark number - 57 per cent - had shared personal information online with people that they had never met in person.

This includes just over half who had shared their email addresses, 27 per cent who had handed out their mobile phone numbers and over a quarter their home address.

Furthermore, despite 80 per cent of smartphone users and 43 per cent of tablet users posting their mobile photos online, and a surprising quarter of those surveyed engaged in "intimate" or "personal" chats and photo exchanges, just one third said they password protect their devices.

Meanwhile, 44 per cent of smartphone users and 41 per cent of tablet users said their devices are not protected from viruses and malware.

The study follows a recent survey carried out by the firm that revealed that those aged over 50 are spending increasing amounts of time online, with the figure reaching an average of five hours a day. 88 per cent questioned said they consider themselves "equally or more tech-savvy" compared to others their age.

This latest survey has also revealed that with the increase has also come the social media drama normally associated with teenagers and young people - sixteen per cent admitted to experiencing negative situations inside social media with, 19 per cent of the rifts being severe enough to end a friendship.

Eight in ten of the respondents said they use social media networks, with 36 per cent logging in daily.

"The use of social networks among people 50 plus is trending now that it's become more commonplace across all age groups," said Michelle Dennedy, vice president and chief privacy officer at McAfee.

"It seems counterintuitive that sharing personal information with strangers would not concern them, however. This further highlights their need to better understand the difference between the real and perceived dangers online and how to best protect themselves."