"Web 2.0 websites will become the main battleground for malware authors, identity thieves and spammers," warns the report, published by Sophos in July.
The security firm recommends companies and households to develop a proper understanding of how social networking websites work and to set up privacy protection when they use Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn or Twitter.
Risks emanating from these websites top the list of electronic dangers outlined by Sophos. Traditional phishing, email threats and attacks on new devices, such as BlackBerries and iPhones, come next in the ranking of annoyances for digital consumers.
Problems associated with the use of social networking are becoming widespread and, as a consequence, better known. Research conducted by Sophos reveals that 63% of employers worry that their employees share too much personal information via social networking sites.
Although a significant number of system administrators do not control access to such websites in the workplace (between 40% and 50%), another important percentage does apply restrictions, and it is expected to increase.
According to Sophos' findings, the main reason for blocking employees' access to social networks is the resulting productivity loss, but "organisations have become increasingly concerned about malicious attacks originating from social networking sites, as well as the risks of users revealing sensitive personal or corporate data online," the report notes.
Data leakage via networking websites has been reported in many high-profile cases widely covered by the press. One of the most famous is the case of the incoming head of the British secret service, MI6, who was exposed by his wife on Facebook, and was thus forced to quit before assuming his post.