Facebook Apps As Security for New Privacy Settings

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Facebook may have teamed up exclusively with McAfee to run virus scans on content shared on the social networking site, but there are other ways to ensure your safety on Facebook. A new app from Websense, called Defensio, aims to provide enhanced security options for individual Facebook users, scanning for viruses and malware that could be picked up from links posted on your Facebook wall or in a message sent from a Facebook friend.

The presence of such security measures is an increasing concern for Facebook users, as the recently updated privacy settings on the social networking site have opened up to become more public by default. This means a lot more people will have a lot more access to the content shared on Facebook, making it easier for someone to spread malicious links, viruses, spam and malware through the social networking site.
As security expert, academic David Firester noted, “Facebook took some necessary steps to protect itself and its users against such attacks with its partnership with McAfee, though this is another default setting imposed by Facebook. The implementation of the McAfee security settings have the potential to put any user on the defensive, requiring that they have a scan run on their entire computer in order to return to Facebook if they have been affected by malware or a virus.”

Firester added, “Third party apps developing similar security measures being marketed directly to users, however, is a whole other ball game. There is the concern that such a service could in fact become a dangerous threat to Facebook users if it is not up to par or is created in part to unlawfully gain access to individual users. Facebook’s own security measures will have to prevent this from happening through the use of an app, but the beefing up of Websense’s Facebook app also hints at another possible trend.”

The desire for individuals to take more control over the content they share, who has access to it, and the way in which they share their information is likely to increase in the coming years. Having a series of control options over social networking activity is probably going to be one of the byproducts of social networks such as Facebook continuing to make information more public and accessible via search engines.

The need for products that address consumer safety and concerns in a direct fashion will rise in demand, especially as the growing collection of content is brought back for personalized advertising and accountability purposes. Not to say that we will all begin to regret the photos we uploaded on Facebook, but in a sense, we very well may end up doing just that.

Nevertheless, Websense’s Facebook app addresses what will become a growing need on large destination sites such as Facebook. As it becomes more of a hub for our daily social activity, it will need to be protected just as well–if not better–than our desktop computers. We often share more photos on Facebook than we have room for on our hard drives. Taking measures to protect our web-based content will become second nature, with privacy being central to ongoing efforts.

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