The rise in the use of social networks has led to an increase in e-crime, an expert has said.

According to Phil D’Angio, director at Verisign – an internet security company – although certain portals do provide marketers with good advertising opportunities, the risk of information theft has grown as social media sites are being used more and more.

"Online sites can become harvest grounds for personal information and clues to passwords which e-criminals can compile and use to commit identity theft," he said, adding that it was important for businesses to ensure they operate under excellent security conditions.

His comments follow the release by Ofcom of its annual Communications Market report, which emphasised the prevalence of social networks with Facebook growing 73 per cent since May and Twitter reaching 2.6 million users.

Further research by the Association of National Advertisers revealed that social networks are being increasingly used by companies in their internet marketing service strategies, with 66 per cent of those questioned admitting to involving them in their campaigns.

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