Facebook is launching another free anti-virus software that monitors for malicious activity and offers to scan infected computers directly from the social network.
The scanning software is being provided by security firm Eset and is intended to protect Facebook accounts from being attacked by malicious software on users’ computers.
“Our goal is to offer our users the right technology to improve their experience of our services and better protect their devices,” said Chetan Gowda, a web developer at Facebook responsible for fighting spam. “ESET Online Scanner for Facebook will significantly decrease the number of malicious links from among the trillions of clicks that take place every day on Facebook.”
Combatting spam and malware
In 2012, Facebook launched a service that detected malicious activity on Facebook accounts and offered users with suspected infected computers a list of free anti-virus software.
Facebook announced partnerships with two security firms F-Secure and Trend Micro in May, and now Eset makes three providing users more options for directly removing infections when they are detected.
“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,” said Gowda.
Users will be notified when they first log into Facebook if suspicious behaviour is detected such as spam messages or the posting of infected links. They will then need to download and install a small programme that scans the computer, but the progress of the scan and results are delivered through Facebook, allowing users to get on and do other things while the scanner checks the computer.
The move comes as an increasing number of scams and malicious software have taken to spreading through Facebook, attracted by the 1.35 billion monthly active users.
The scams have used social engineering to get people to click on infected links spreading through friends’ news feeds with click-bait headlines. Facebook has been proactively blocking and removing links it spots as malicious, but has not been able to stop the root of the problem – infected computers.
The social network hopes the new free anti-virus service will help cut down on the amount of malware spread through Facebook, tackling the cause directly.
This article was written by Samuel Gibbs, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 3rd December 2014 14.00 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010