Social networking sites and new web platforms will provide opportunities for cybercriminals over the next 12 months.

According to its 2010 Threat Predictions report, McAfee Labs said that it expects sites such as Twitter and Facebook to increasingly become hubs of cybercrime, given the range of options and strategies that they offer cybercriminals.

It said that as third-party applications on these sites are rapidly changing the criminal toolkit, this gives cybercriminals new technologies to work with and hot spots of activity that can be exploited.

The report said: “Users will become more vulnerable to attacks that blindly distribute rogue apps across their networks, and cybercriminals will take advantage of friends trusting friends to get users to click on links they might otherwise treat cautiously.

“The use of abbreviated URLs on sites like Twitter make it even easier for cybercriminals to mask and direct users to malicious websites. McAfee Labs predicts that cybercriminals will increasingly use these tactics across the most popular social networking sites in 2010.”

It also claimed that the evolution of the web will give cybercriminals new opportunities to write malware. The release of Google Chrome OS and the technological advancements of HTML 5 will continue to shift user activity from desktop to online applications, creating yet another opportunity for malware writers to prey on users.

The report said that HTML 5's anticipated cross-platform support also provides an additional motivation for attackers, enabling them to reach users of many mainstream browsers.

Jeff Green, senior vice president of McAfee Labs, said: “Over the past decade, we've seen a tremendous improvement in the ability to successfully monitor, uncover, and stop cybercrime.

“We're now facing emerging threats from the explosive growth of social networking sites, the exploitation of popular applications and more advanced techniques used by cybercriminals, but we're confident that 2010 will be a successful year for the cybersecurity community.”

Derek Manky, project manager, cyber security and threat research at Fortinet, said: “The growth in cybercriminal activity we observed in 2009 will continue with force in 2010. With more digital convergence undoubtedly to occur in 2010, there will be a wealth of opportunity for cybercriminals.

“There is an infinite number of victims to target, the infrastructure is already in place along with development resources, and there are ample new delivery vehicles such as social media networks to help facilitate cybercriminal activities.

“Digesting all of this, it becomes apparent that we are in for a wild ride in 2010 all elements are positioned for a perfect storm in cyberspace.”