Men are more likely to fall foul of social-network based malware and phishing scams than women, says BitDefender.

Research of 1,649 UK and US web users by the security firm revealed 64.2 percent of women always reject friendship requests from people they don't know on sites such as Facebook, while just only 55.4 percent of men follow the same strategy.

Furthermore, more than a quarter (24.5 percent) of men leave their social network profiles searchable by strangers, compared with 16 percent of women. More than a quarter (25.6 percent) of men also admitted they share their location on social networks while just 21.8 percent of women do the same.

BitDefender said the risky online behaviour could result in hackers being able to access personal details of web users, which could then be used in identify theft, targeted attacks and other cybercrime. It increases the likelihood of being sent messages contain links to malicious software.

"Men expose themselves to risks more than women, especially when accepting friendship from unknown persons," said George Petre, Bitdefender's senior social media security researcher.

"On a positive note, the survey also showed that only about a quarter of users are willing to share their location on social networks, which makes location disclosure an important privacy concern for all users. However, most social network applications, especially the mobile ones, are designed to share this information by default, which opens the door to embarrassing if not truly dangerous situations."

The security firm also said men in the US are slightly more likely to engage in risky online behaviour than their UK counterparts.