Facebook profiles sell for less than a pound

Facebook profiles are being sold on the "online black market" for 89p, according to Trend Micro research.

Other deals online thieves are making include 35 for stolen bank details, 25 for stolen credit card details, and a pop-up Trojan used unseen on a computer to steal information for 60.

Spamming was still popular and incredibly cheap, with 30,000 UK based email addresses for 5, and one million international email addresses for 4.

Trend Micro noted that cyber attacks increased by 500 per cent in the shopping period between September and December in 2007, and expected that figure to rise by even more this year, as the barriers to becoming an online thief lower and the economic climate takes its toll.

Rik Ferguson of Trend Micro said that users were giving a huge amount of information away on social networks, with criminals drawn to these sites as they had email addresses, names and birthdays readily available.

He said: "Whether you're going online to use Facebook, doing your banking or Christmas shopping you should be aware that hacking activity and identity theft tend to increase during certain times of the year.

"As we approach Christmas we urge users to apply a certain sense of caution when it comes to the sites they visit and giving away personal information."

His tips for users to stay safe were to look for the padlock on browsers, vary passwords, use social networking sites carefully, clean your machine regularly and to use protective software.