You probably knew that Facebook can embarrass you. But the social networking site is also a top target for hackers trying to steal personal information and spread computer viruses.Hackers have been drawn to Facebook like flies to sugar because of the many opportunites to use "social engineering" to get people to give away personal information or download something nasty to their computer.
By using the sorts of things that people usually share on social networks—links to videos, quizzes, pictures of sexy women—hackers are able to lure people to websites outside Facebook that are the internet equivalent of a dark alley behind a biker bar. If your teenagers use Facebook on your home computer, odds are something they've clicked on has installed something unsavory, unless you're running a good anti-virus software package and have properly configured Windows' firewall and browser security.
To protect users of the site, Facebook has formed a partnership with McAfee to help keep Facebook viruses in check. McAfee and Facebook will offer a free six month subscription to McAfee's antivirus scanning software to Facebook users.
In a post to the Facebook blog, project manager Jake Brikk said, "Now, if your computer is infected, you will be asked to run a scan ... and clean it before accessing Facebook. We're not aware of another free Internet service that takes this much responsibility for helping people keep their accounts secure."
Facebook users have been the frequent target of e-mail scams and viruses spread through status updates. Considering how hostile a place Facebook can be for the naïve, the McAfee deal is a no-brainer for Facebook users on Windows.
There's no word on how much the subscription fee for the McAfee service will be after the six month trial expires, but according to InformationWeek, the price will probably be less than if you purchased McAfee's retail antivirus product.