Facebook Recruits Websense To Secure Users

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Facebook has linked up with Websense to warn users of malicious links posted on the social network

Facebook is stepping up its efforts to protect users from malicious links with a new arrangement that will see third-party link-scanning technology integrated into the social network.

Beginning on Monday web security firm Websense will deploy technology into Facebook, intended to screen users from malicious links.


When a Facebook user clicks on any link, Websense will check it against a database to determine whether it is malicious. If there is a positive match the user will be presented with a page that warns of the situation and gives the choice of continuing, returning to the previous page or seeing more information on why the link was flagged.

Facebook has been repeatedly criticised for failing to protect users from the dangers hidden within the site, such as a cross-site scripting (XSS) exploit discovered in a video link in April or malware discovered within Facebook posts last year.

Other recent scams have included malicious Facebook advertisements exploiting the death of Osama bin Laden in May and an exploit pretending to offer free airline tickets last week.

Facebook said it plans to do better on security.

“Facebook cares deeply about protecting users from potentially malicious content on the Internet,” said Dan Rubinstein, Facebook’s product manager for site integrity, in a statement. “We are excited about our partnership with Websense to provide industry leading tools to help our users protect themselves.”

Real-time scan

The new service is backed by Websense’s ThreatSeeker Cloud, which classifies and identifies malware. The service uses Websense’s Advanced Classification Engine (ACE) to analyse threats in real time, the company said.

“Every day, Websense Security Labs works to discover, investigate, and report on advanced Internet threats that are designed to circumvent antivirus products,” said Websense chief technology officer Dan Hubbard in a statement. “By providing real-time protection from malware, spyware, inappropriate content, data leaks, and spam, we make it safe for people and businesses to use the web.”

The move is not a significant change of direction for Facebook, which is accumulating security partners as it looks to improve its image on user safety, according to Sophos senior technology consultant Graham Cluley.

Back in May (Facebook) announced they had partnered with Web of Trust for the same thing,” he told eWeek Europe UK. “That’s when those warning messages first began to appear. I imagine they’ll add a number of security partners to their list.”

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