Facebook offers free anti-virus

Facebook’s struck a deal with five major security vendors allowing it to offer their anti-virus products for free.

Microsoft, McAfee, Trend Micro, Sophos, and Symantec have also agreed to share their URL blacklists with Facebook in an effort to combat malware.

The new Facebook AntiVirus Marketplace offers free, six-month licenses from the five vendors, which will also provide educational materials for the Facebook Security Blog.

“We believe that arming our users with anti-virus software will help empower them to stay safe no matter where they are on the web,” says the company.

“Truly effective security requires cooperation and we are excited about this partnership with many of the leaders in the security community to better help us defend against existing threats, anticipate new ones and arm people with the tools they need to protect themselves.”

From today, the vendors will feed their own malicious URL information into Facebook’s database, which tells users when the link they’ve clicked on is potentially malicious.

Users are then sent to a page offering the choice to continue at their own risk, return to the previous screen or obtain more information on why the link was flagged as suspicious.

“For many hundreds of millions of people, Facebook has become the default forum for sharing and consuming opinions, news and personal content.  Because content is typically posted by a trusted source – a friend – many users incorrectly assume links are safe,” says Mark Harris, vice president of SophosLabs.

“Scammers often take advantage of the trust relationship to fool users into clicking malicious links.”