Just 27 per cent of social networkers are protecting themselves against online threats, says AVG.

The security firm's 'Bringing Social Security to the Online community' survey, which was conducted in conjunction with the CMO Council, revealed that 64 per cent of web users that use sites such as Facebook and Twitter admitted to very rarely changing their passwords, while only 43 per cent adjust their privacy settings on a frequent basis.

"As social networking populations grow globally and the proliferation of niche social networks and mobile offerings extends the reach of social communities, the threats and vulnerabilities are escalating accordingly," said Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council.

AVG said that 21 per cent of social networkers accept contact from members they don't recognise, while 26 per cent share files within a social network and 64 per cent said they click on links sent by other members.

As a result of poor security practices, 20 per cent of web users that belong to a social network have been the victim of identity theft, while 55 per cent have experienced a phishing attack and 47 per cent admitted they have been attacked by malware.

"The fact that users understand the risks, and yet are failing to take the basic steps to protect themselves presents an interesting challenge to companies, like AVG, that are working to create a safer cyber community," said Siobhan MacDermott, head of public policy, corporate communications and investor Relations, AVG Technologies.

Follow CIO UK on Twitter.