January 14, 2010

Facebook Offers Users Security With McAfee

Facebook just added McAfee to its friends list in a big way by announcing a year-long partnership with the security firm that will allow all 350 million Facebookers to download a free six-month subscription to McAfee's security software.

But to get the free subscription, McAfee's Facebook page requires users to first become a "fan" of the company. As with all fan pages, the move is posted to users' news feeds for their friends to see "” an easy way to gain even more fans.

Facebook users whose accounts are breached by malicious software or other cyberattacks will need to have their computers cleansed by McAfee before returning to life in the online community.

After the six month period, Facebook users who chose to renew the subscription will have to pay a fee. A McAfee spokesperson said the fee had not yet been determined and that it will probably be less than the annual subscription price charged to retail buyers of its security software.

Jake Brill, a project manager for Facebook's integrity team, says, "We have a lot of control over security measures on Facebook. However, we don't control other websites and services you visit that might infect your computer. For this reason, we recommend that you install updated security software, which you can now do at no cost through this partnership."

In 2009, Facebook had repeated problems with the Koobface worm. Profiles that were hacked into just needed a password-reset.

Facebook director of communications Barry Schnitt says, ""We found that they wouldn't fix the problems and got infected again."

"Now, we've integrated a solution where they actually have to get machines scanned and cleaned."

Facebook and other social networking sites have become targets for cybercriminals because of their popularity, the potential value of friend data to fuel social engineering attacks, and the tendency of users to trust messages that appear to come from friends.


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