A popular online multiplayer game, Second Life, has been hacked, exposing the real-world personal data of thousands of players.

US company Linden Lab told its 650,000 users that its customer database, which includes names, addresses, passwords and some credit card data, had been compromised.

The company claimed that the vulnerability was "promptly repaired", but recommended that users change their passwords. Ross Paul, senior product manager, EMEA & APAC, at Websense said: "As communities become larger and more attractive, they will attract increasing criminal attention, but I think the speed and honesty of Linden Labs disclosure is the good news here. Full and honest disclosure of issues will retain consumer trust."

Players of the MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role playing game) can buy and sell virtual land and build businesses using "Linden Dollars", which can be converted into real currency. Second Life has become so popular that companies such as the BBC, Coca-Cola Company and Wells Fargo & Co have created virtual copies of their businesses within the game.