Facebook Teams Up With Microsoft, Symantec, Others on Antivirus Marketplace

Facebook is giving users access to free downloads of anti-malware software, and trading URL blacklists with its partners, which also includes McAfee, Sophos and Trend Micro.

Facebook officials are launching a site on their social network aimed at making their 900 million-plus users and their systems more secure.

Facebook, in partnership with Microsoft, McAfee, Symantec, Trend Micro and Sophos, on April 25 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.

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.

€œThis 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 April 25 post on the company€™s blog. €œAt the moment, less than 4% of content shared is spam (compared to nearly 90% 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.

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 organizations, 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 April 15 post on the social network€™s blog, Joel Kaplan, vice president of U.S. 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.

€œWhen 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 victimized by the same attack,€ Kaplan wrote. €œSimilarly, 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.€