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 Europe.
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."