In its latest media advisory, Gartner warned that companies are exposing themselves to five major security and risk-management issues if they allow users to access uncontrolled virtual worlds.
Steve Prentice, a Gartner vice-president and distinguished analyst, said if companies were using such sites they should look to the more heavily moderated sites, such as There, Kaneva and Activeworlds.
"The risks enterprises face in virtual worlds are real and significant. They should not be ignored - but neither should the potential for corporate collaboration and communications," he said.
Prentice said IT managers need to be more grounded. He summarised the five main areas in which virtual worlds will generate tangible threats. These are IT-related security risks (where unverified applications are downloaded and firewalls breached) identity authentication and access management confidentiality brand and reputation risk management and productivity.
Virtual worlds, he concluded, present a diversion that lead to significant wasted time and resources.