You may have seen the news that Facebook is teaming up with McAfee to improve security. Frankly, providing users with McAfee’s product is not likely to do much in terms of improving security. Facebook users all over the world have access to free and paid solutions, so this isn’t likely to make a big difference. One report stated that McAfee will help Facebook build educational content. Education is one layer of defense that Facebook really needs to improve on. Currently when I go to my Facebook account the lack of links to security resources on Facebook is stark. One would expect something, and something prominent, that offers security information. When you browse to www.facebook.com there should be prominent links to security information right there.
There is a Facebook blog titled “Better Security through Software” at http://blog.facebook.com/blog.php?post=248766257130. I’m all for using software to improve security, however, you get even more security through education and frankly I think much of the problem for Facebook right now is not that users don’t know they can get free antivirus software.
For Facebook, as for all of us, the real challenge is to provide high quality education and get people to want to learn about being more secure. For McAfee this is definitely a big PR win for a few days as it is in the headlines and for the next year as presumably they’ll have some nice advertising space on Facebook.
In the long term, unfortunately, I do not see this deal doing much to improve the security of Facebook users.
Director of Technical Education
Author ESET Research, ESET