Facebook beefs up security with new anti-virus partners

Facebook is stepping up its security focus to better protect users from malicious links and malware. The social networking giant on Tuesday announced seven new additions to the its Antivirus Marketplace.

The new security partners include Avast, AVG, Avira, Kaspersky, Panda, Total Defense, and Webroot. Those companies join existing partners Microsoft, McAfee, Norton, TrendMicro, and Sophos to offer Facebook users desktop and mobile anti-virus software.

Some of the software is easily found on the companies’ own sites; Facebook just offers a centralized point from which to download. But there are a few special offers. Kaspersky Lab has a six-month software subscription to its Pure Total Security Suite and Security for Mac products exclusively for Facebook users, the company says.

Free six-month subscriptions from McAfee and Webroot are also available in Facebook’s AV Marketplace, while Norton is offering a free download of its mobile security software for Android phones and tablets.

Other downloads, like Avira’s, AVG’s, and Avast’s free anti-virus software products, are always free. AVG partnered with Facebook to provide date from its LinkScanner service, which alerts users when links to external sites are malicious.

Beyond just software downloads, the anti-virus companies in Facebook’s Antivirus Marketplace are also building up the social networking site’s URL blacklist system.

The system screens links posted on Facebook users’ walls to external sites to make sure they’re safe to visit. Facebook places an interstitial page between its own pages and malicious sites to protect and warn users. The company in a Tuesday blog posting said it plans to soon announce more tools related to security and screening.

Facebook has this year escalated its efforts to protect the site’s 1 billion users from malware, phishing, and other security violations. The company in July put in place phishing protections and malware checkpoints so when your Facebook friends post suspicious links on your wall, your computer won’t immediately be attacked (unless you ignore the site’s warnings and proceed to click through).

“We’re very committed to making the Facebook experience more secure for the more than 1 billion people who use Facebook,” Joe Sullivan, Facebook’s chief security officer, said in a statement. “We believe that effective security must be a cooperative effort, so we’re thrilled to collaborate with these partners more in the future to keep our community even better protected from threats both on Facebook and elsewhere on the Web.”

The new partnerships were announced just as Facebook has come under fire for security holes such as phone number searches and discussion groups. The two issues are unrelated to viruses and malware, but could be used in more personal and equally malicious ways.

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