The UK needs to start thinking about how to secure social networking sites and virtual worlds before it is too late, says a government-funded cyber security think-tank.
The Cyber Security Knowledge Transfer Network (CSKTN) aims to together expertise on cyber security to guide government and industry.
"Things like Facebook, Twitter and Second Life will become standard communication channels and we need to start looking at how to secure them now," says Tony Dyhouse, newly-appointed director of the CSKTN.
These Web 2.0 technologies are a major security concern for businesses, according to research by Deloitte.
A survey of 200 technology, media and telecoms firms shows that 83% view the exploitation of vulnerabilities in Web 2.0 as a significant threat .
Dyhouse plans to work with UK government, business and UK youth to look at how these technologies are being used.
This research will be used to predict the future roles of these communication channels in business and plan how best to protect users from criminals seeking to exploit them.
"We need to be ahead of that so we can find ways of protecting users in virtual worlds where it is more difficult to make judgement calls about other users," says Dyhouse.
His strategy is to have a framework in place for protecting against these virtual world security threats before they become a serious problem.
"The trend towards using faster, hugely pervasive means of communication like Twitter will only continue, so it would be better to be prepared," says Dyhouse.
He plans to continue and expand his predecessor Nigel Jones's initiatives to make the CSKTN's work more international.
"The threats are more or less the same around the world, so we want to make sure UK innovation is building on and not duplicating the work of others," says Dyhouse.