Facebook to offer McAfee security software in bid to battle cyber crime

13 Jan 2010

The increasing spate of cyber attacks on social-networking sites Facebook and Twitter has spurred Facebook to join forces with security software giant McAfee to offer users technology to protect themselves.

McAfee and Facebook last night announced an unprecedented collaboration that will provide additional security protection to a significant portion of the internet population.

Through this partnership, the two companies have jointly created security solutions that include McAfee security software, a custom scanning and repair tool, and consumer friendly education materials that Facebook will make available to its more than 350 million users.

Cyber crime fighting

McAfee described the deal as a first-of-its-kind security offering that represents a major milestone in the fight to secure the internet and reduce global cyber crime.

Under the terms of the partnership, McAfee is Facebook’s exclusive provider of consumer security software, and Facebook users will be eligible for a complimentary six-month subscription of the McAfee Internet Security Suite software.

Following the six-month period, Facebook users will be eligible for special discount subscription pricing.

Facebook said it is applying all financial incentives from this partnership to the benefit of its users and will not be taking a share of any revenue from user subscriptions.

McAfee Internet Security Suite software protects users’ PCs from online threats, viruses, spyware, hackers, online scammers, identity thieves and other cyber criminals, and includes award-winning McAfee SiteAdvisor site-rating technology.

If a Facebook account is compromised, Facebook said it has developed an innovative process that requires users to take steps to re-secure their Facebook account and learn security best practices.

As part of the partnership, this process will now also include custom McAfee technology to clean users’ computers.

Facebook said there is no charge for use of this tool.

Learning materials

To keep users educated about the latest threats, Facebook and McAfee will work together to develop educational content for the Facebook Security Page, Facebook’s principal resource for security-related information with more than 1 million fans.

McAfee will also continuously update its own Facebook page, which features the offer on the “Protect Your PC” tab as well as security information on “Protect Your Kids” and “Security Notes” tabs.

“Facebook is very serious about security and has made significant efforts to protect its users and service by investing in dedicated teams and sophisticated systems, and this partnership with McAfee furthers that mission,” said Todd Gebhart, executive vice-president and general manager, McAfee Consumer, Mobile and Small Business.

“We believe our partnership will make a real difference in the battle to secure the internet by giving so many more people access to industry-leading technology from McAfee.”

Facebook selected McAfee after a competitive review process among the leading security vendors. McAfee is rated the number one vendor in threat detection, and McAfee Active Protection technology provides protection by blocking both known and unknown online threats almost instantly.

Some stats

Research has shown that up to 78pc of consumers do not have updated anti-virus, an enabled firewall and anti-spyware, and 48pc of them have expired anti-virus, the most fundamental protection.

So many people without even the most basic protection for their computers are an obvious risk to themselves, but also to people with whom they interact online.

“By partnering with a market leader like McAfee, we are taking an unprecedented step towards making the entire internet more secure and reducing the possibility of threats being brought onto our service by unsuspecting users,” said Elliot Schrage, vice-president of global communications, marketing and public policy, Facebook.

“Keeping the internet secure requires that users, security vendors and internet companies all work together. We think we’ve developed an excellent model for this collaboration, and to ensure the greatest possible value to our users, Facebook will not accept any revenue from subscriptions. We hope this is something that other services will emulate.”

Upon launch, McAfee Internet Security Suite software will be available to Facebook users in the US, UK, Australia, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, France, Canada, Mexico and Brazil. Additional countries will be added throughout Q1.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years