Facebook's ESET Partnership Helps Users Find, Scan Malware

NEWS ANALYSIS: The partnership with ESET provides Facebook users with another tool to help secure users proactively.

malware scan

Facebook announced today a new partnership to help its users stay secure and malware-free—the social networking giant's latest step to do its part to keep the Internet safe.

The new partnership is with security vendor ESET, which will now help Facebook and its users find and detect potential malware running on user PCs. If a user accesses a Facebook service and the company detects some form of suspicious behavior, the user will get a message with the offer to run an anti-malware scan.

"You can run the scan, see the scan results and disable the software all without logging out of Facebook—making it seamless and easy to clean up an infected device," Chetan Gowda, software engineer on the site integrity team at Facebook wrote in a company note.

The ESET technology adds to existing Facebook partnerships with F-Secure and Trend Micro that were first announced in May.

"A larger number of providers increases the chances that malware will get caught and cleaned up, which will help people on Facebook keep their information more secure," Jay Nancarrow, communications manager at Facebook, told eWEEK.

There is no financial component to the new ESET partnership or with the previously announced partnerships with Trend Micro and F-Secure, Nancarrow said.

Facebook has a number of techniques and technologies in place to help detect potentially malicious behavior. "We use a variety of automated systems to help detect suspicious activity at login and other points of interaction with our service," Nancarrow said. "These are the same systems that help us determine when a device is likely to have malware."

The malware-scanning effort from Facebook isn't the only proactive effort from the social media giant. In October, Facebook announced an effort to reinforce user password security. As part of the initiative, Facebook scans public sources of information disclosure incidents to see if any of its users are impacted. If a user is potentially at risk, Facebook proactively informs the user to reset his or her password.

The fact that Facebook is proactively using its platform to help secure itself and its users is a point that should not be understated. How many other online services actually try and help users proactively make sure their systems are not infected with malware?

Google helps protect users with its Safe Browser technology, which is baked into Chrome and is also leveraged by Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari. Google claims that 1 billion people now benefit from Safe Browsing, a technology that helps browsers identify potentially malicious sites that could infect users with malware or attempt to steal user information.

Helping users proactively and automatically is also something that Yahoo Chief Information Security Officer Alex Stamos has been advocating as a way to make the Internet safer for everyone. At the Black Hat USA 2014 conference, Stamos referred to his vision as being about "security paternalism" in which security professionals help make decisions on behalf of regular users.

Proactive security paternalism is clearly a trend that Facebook has now embraced; it's a trend that hopefully more vendors will implement in the year ahead to secure the Internet for everyone.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.