Chocolate No Longer As Effective In Separating Men From Their Passwords?
from the fun-with-statistics,-headlines-and-chocolate dept
There are a bunch of headlines today about the fact that people will give up their passwords in exchange for some chocolate, but most of the reports seem to be missing the point. Similar studies have been conducted for years. Four years ago, we saw an almost identical study. Other studies have shown that people will give up their passwords for a ballpoint pen or chance to win theater tickets. None of this really proves very much. The “chocolate” hook is really just for generating headlines. After all, a similar study showed that people would give up private data if you just ask nicely. Chocolate may have nothing to do with it.
In reality, though, the interesting part of this chocolate story is the fact that the number of people who give up their password for chocolate is way down this year compared to the same study last year. Last year 64% gave up their password, whereas this year only 21% did. That’s a huge difference, and should make you question the methodology. It certainly sounds like the results could depend very much on how persuasive the questioner is. Hire someone who’s a good social engineer, and the numbers go up. For the same reason, I wouldn’t give very much credence to the other headline coming out of this study that women are more likely than men to hand over their passwords. Again, without testing it under identical circumstances, it’s tough to determine that for sure. A good social engineer will be able to get passwords out of plenty of people, whether using chocolate, a ballpoint pen or just plain sweet talk.