Facebook is shopping around for a cybersecurity company to reinforce the platform

22 Oct 2018

Facebook office exterior. Image: Facebook

Facebook is reportedly gearing up to reinforce its security by lining up a major cybersecurity company.

It has been a difficult year for Facebook when it comes to security and user trust. From Cambridge Analytica to the company’s biggest security breach in its history, 2018 has been one test after another for the company.

According to a report from The Information, Facebook wants to show its users and investors that it is serious about security by getting the ball rolling on a major cybersecurity acquisition.

Sources referred to in the article don’t identify any possible takeover targets, but they say a deal could be brokered by the end of 2018. Facebook is said to be in advanced discussions with one major cybersecurity company, while it has offered deals to several other firms as well.

It is likely to buy software that could be easily integrated into its existing services, such as tools for signalling hacking attempts or securing individual accounts.

Spammers, not nation state actors

As per The Wall Street Journal, the company has tentatively concluded that the major breach that occurred at the end of September was the fault of spammers disguised as a digital marketing company, as opposed to nation state-linked actors.

The social media platform is working with the FBI, which requested that it does not discuss potential culprits but added that there is no reason to believe the incident is linked to the upcoming elections in the US.

A deal with a major cybersecurity company could help the company reinforce its existing defences and supply it with specialised expertise it may need in future. The reported acquisition could additionally restore public trust in the safety of the platform on which personal data is shared.

Nick Clegg welcomed aboard at Facebook

As well as this potential move to bolster its security arsenal, the company recently hired former UK deputy prime minister Nick Clegg as its head of global affairs and communications.

In an announcement last week, he said: “Having spoken at length to Mark [Zuckerberg] and Sheryl [Sandberg] over the last few months, I have been struck by their recognition that the company is on a journey which brings new responsibilities not only to the users of Facebook’s apps but to society at large. I hope I will be able to play a role in helping to navigate that journey.”

He added: “After almost 20 years in European and British politics, this is an exciting new adventure for me.

“Throughout my public life, I have relished grappling with difficult and controversial issues and seeking to communicate them to others. I hope to use some of those skills in my new role.”

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects