Facebook users get app to scan for malicious links

Facebook users worried about the risk of clicking on malicious links while using the social networking service are being offered a new app web that filters friend from foe.

Available as a live beta, ShareSafe from F-Secure uses “patent-pending” technology to scan links users plan to send to friends, or do the same in reverse when links arrive from other sources. Once installed, users simply navigate to the Sharesafe page where links can be pasted for security testing.

The app spreads virally by branding itself next to every scanned link sent out to friends and by asking for permission to recommend itself to a user’s Facebook friends directly, which underlines the vendor’s motivation for offering it as a free utility.

Cleverly, F-secure also offers points for every scanned link as long as it is also ‘shared’ (i.e the F-Secure brand gets some exposure), which can be redeemed against paid products from the company such as its PC or mobile antivirus software or online backup service.

“People now share via social media more than by any other method. Online criminals and tricksters are exploiting this to make money from spam, scams and malware,” said F-Secure security advisor, Sean Sullivan. “ShareSafe is a fun application that also provides a useful service for family and friends, making Facebook a safer place for everyone.”

Add-on apps and services that check links sent within social media sites have become a new frontline for security vendors with Symantec offering an identical Facebook scanner earlier this year. Similar issues exist in Twitter, hence BitDefender’s recently announced app, Safego for checking out other users on the service.

As ever, making money from such apps and services is nigh impossible; vendors are battling here for mindshare not market share.

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