Feeds

Facebook defends security strategy

Shy social network responds to criticism

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Analysis Facebook has defended its record in thwarting rogue applications and other security in the face of criticism from security firms that it ought to adopt tighter application controls.

The dominant social network disputes findings from a threat report by UK-based net security firm Sophos, released earlier this week, that spam, malware and other attacks have become more effective against Facebook users over the last year.

Facebook reckons the opposite is true while disputing the methodology adopted by Sophos which it said looked, for example, at the volume of spam sent to Facebook users instead of the volume that reached their in-boxes.

Facebook said: "If your spam filter catches all the spam, does it matter that your filter caught 10 per cent more?"

The social networking site reckons less than three per cent of communications on Facebook are spam, compared to industry estimates that email spam makes up 90 per cent of all electronic messages. The implication is that Sophos is focusing on the wrong problem.

Unfriending rogues

Survey scams have become an almost daily occurrence on Facebook over recent months. Typically they use the lure of an application that a potential victim's friend has been tricked into installing, such as a 'Dislike' button or a link to shocking (invariably bogus) news about a celebrity.

Instead of getting the promised content, victims are invited to navigate their way through a thicket of time-wasting surveys. Scammers earn a kick-back for each victim as affiliates of unethical marketing firms.

More ambitious (and lucrative) scams attempt to trick victims into supplying their mobile number, before signing up to a premium rate text messaging service of questionable utility.

The scams take advantage of human stupidity rather than web security vulnerabilities. Both Sophos and Facebook agree that user education is part of the solution, but the two are split on whether Facebook itself could do more to tighten up its controls on how applications are released onto its platform.

In a statement responding to Sophos' report, Facebook said it has plenty of controls already that limit access to information.

We have built extensive controls into the product, so that now when you add an application it only gets access to very limited data and the user must approve each additional type of data (so we do more than anyone else to educate users about passage of data, and force disclosure and user consent for each category beyond the basics).

We have a dedicated team that does robust review of all third party applications, using a risk based approach. So, that means that we first look at velocity/number of users/types of data shared, and prioritise. This ensures that the team is focused on addressing the biggest risks, rather than just doing a cursory review at the time that an app is first launched.

We make sure that we act swiftly to remove/sanction potentially bad applications before they gain access to data, and involve law enforcement and file civil actions if there is a problem.

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Webcam hacker pervs in MASS HOME INVASION
You thought you were all alone? Nope – change your password, says ICO
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
USB coding anarchy: Consider all sticks licked
Thumb drive design ruled by almighty buck
Attack reveals 81 percent of Tor users but admins call for calm
Cisco Netflow a handy tool for cheapskate attackers
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence
Download Choosing a Cloud Hosting Provider with Confidence to learn more about cloud computing - the new opportunities and new security challenges.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.