Computer security firms and military personnel have issued warnings about certain Facebook features that could compromise both personal and national security.

On Thursday, Sophos, a computer security developer, warned that Facebook's new online messaging service could increase users' vulnerability to identity theft. John Leyden of The Register reported that the service, which combines site updates, instant messaging chat, and SMS messages in one place, is an attractive target for cybercriminals. According to Leyden, spammers can easily target accounts, or they can be compromised to create Web 2.0 botnets.

"Users need to realize that these new features increase the attack surface on the Facebook platform, making personal accounts more attractive to cybercriminals," said Graham Cluley, Sophos' senior technology consultant, to AFP. "Facebook accounts will now be linked with more people in users' social circles, creating new opportunities for identity fraudsters to launch attacks."

Cluley added, "Users also need to be aware that Facebook will store a complete archive of all their communications with one person. This raises concerns about how this data could be misused if it fell into the wrong hands. It is crucial for Facebook to implement effective filtering mechanisms to prevent fraudsters from manipulating users into falling victim to new spams, scams, and phishing attacks."

Sophos recommended that Facebook users take steps to secure their accounts. According to AFP, these steps include using strong passwords, ensuring that their computer's security software is up-to-date, and monitoring the applications linked to their social networking profiles.

The U.S. Air Force has also advised caution when using Facebook and similar websites. On Wednesday, they warned troops to be careful with social networking services, as they could reveal their exact locations to enemy soldiers. This advisory, posted on the military's internal website and issued to senior commanders, highlighted the operational security and privacy risks associated with careless use of these services. According to AP writer Lolita C. Baldor, the U.S. Army plans to issue a similar advisory next week.

In other Facebook-related news, Twitter co-founder Evan Williams mentioned at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco that he had explored the possibility of partnering with Facebook. However, he stated, "So far, neither side has seen a way to do that." Glenn Chapman of AFP reported that Williams was frustrated when Facebook blocked an application that would have allowed users to integrate their contact lists and see when friends were using either service. "We'd like our users to tap into Facebook to enhance their Twitter experience," Williams said, "but I understand their position. They see the social graph as their core asset."

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