Facebook has signed a one-year deal with security software firm McAfee that aims to grant greater protection from viruses and malware for its 350 million users.
Users who are signed up with the website will be encouraged to download a six-month free trial of McAfee’s anti-virus software, before being offered the licensed program at a discounted price. In addition, holders of any accounts that have been compromised by hackers or infected with malware will be required to clean their system using an online version of McAfee’s utilities before they can resume use of Facebook.
“One thing we haven’t been able to control is the security of people’s computers,” said Barry Schnitt, director of corporate communications and public policy at Facebook. “The level of responsibility we’re taking to protect and remediate our users is unique, and the security benefits extend beyond Facebook.”
The security ramifications of employee use of social networking tools is a growing concern among businesses. A survey by security solutions firm Sophos in 2009 discovered that nearly two-thirds (63%) of IT managers are worried about the potential for corporate security breaches via Web 2.0 platforms such as Facebook and microblogging website Twitter.
It’s attempts to address security concerns will be welcomed by businesses, but elsewhere Facebook faces mounting crticism regarding its treatment of users’ personal data. Last month, the website overhauled its privacy settings, allowing for some personal information to be shared with all other users by default. This lead to a number of official complaints being filed with the US Federal Trade Commission.
Earlier this week, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg attracted controversy when he claimed at a San Francisco conference that personal privacy was no longer a “social norm”.