Facebook Reveals Free Antivirus Marketplace

Facebook has launched a new security initiative thanks to an Antivirus Marketplace that aims to make its 900 million-plus users and their systems more secure.

Facebook has partnered up with Microsoft, McAfee, Symantec, Trend Micro and Sophos, and on 25 April announced the Antivirus Marketplace, where users can download free six-month licenses or full versions of the companies’ anti-malware software for six months to a year, depending on which products they choose.

Blacklists And Downloads

At the same time, the software companies will share their URL blacklists, which detail suspicious Websites, with Facebook, which already has its own list. The idea is that with its own URL blacklist being augmented by those from its software vendor partners, Facebook will better be able to protect its users from malicious links that are sent around the social network.

“This means that whenever you click a link on our site, you benefit not just from Facebook’s existing protections, but the ongoing vigilance of the world’s leading corporations involved in computer security,” the Facebook Security Team said in an 25 April post on the company’s blog. “At the moment, less than 4 percent of content shared is spam (compared to nearly 90 percent of email), and we are looking forward to making even more progress in the future.”

In addition, the security software vendors will be contributing to Facebook’s Security Blog to talk about security issues and concerns, and to give users educational materials regarding security.

The Antivirus Marketplace comes as Facebook officials become more vocal in the area of security. The social network for years has been the target of privacy advocates, who have voiced concerns over the amount of personal data the site collects on its users and the ever-changing privacy policies that seem to be aimed more at exposing personal information than protecting privacy.

But in recent years, as the number of users has grown rapidly, Facebook increasingly has become a more popular target of cyber-criminals, and the social network has bulked up its capabilities in combating scammers, hackers and malware on the site.

Privacy Issues

However, most recently, Facebook came under fire from privacy advocates because of its support of the controversial Cyber-Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), proposed legislation that would enable the federal government and private businesses to more easily share information about cyber-attacks.

Privacy groups and others, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, have railed against CISPA, saying the bill would enable government organisations, like the National Security Agency, to gather more personal data about citizens, with little to no oversight on what information is collected or how it is used.

However, Facebook officials have rallied around the legislation. In an 15 April post on the social network’s blog, Joel Kaplan, vice president of US public policy at Facebook, said CISPA will give Facebook and other companies crucial information about cyber-attacks, without requiring the vendors to reveal personal information about their users.

“When one company detects an attack, sharing information about that attack promptly with other companies can help protect those other companies and their users from being victimised by the same attack,” Kaplan wrote. “Similarly, if the government learns of an intrusion or other attack, the more it can share about that attack with private companies (and the faster it can share the information), the better the protection for users and our systems.”

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Jeffrey Burt

Jeffrey Burt is a senior editor for eWEEK and contributor to TechWeekEurope

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