Facebook's new online messaging service makes users of the social networking site more vulnerable to identity theft by cybercriminals, computer security firm Sophos warned Thursday.

According to the AFP, it urged users to be aware of the security risks before signing up for Facebook's next-generation online messaging service that blends online chat, text messages and other real-time conversation tools with traditional email.

"Users need to realise that these new features increase the attack surface on the Facebook platform, and make personal accounts all the more alluring for cybercriminals to break into," said Sophos senior technology consultant Graham Cluley.

"Facebook accounts will now be...

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    staff and wire services reports