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Facebook flashes its One Tool To Rule Them All in security threat analysis

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Facebook has bragged about a new internal tool that combines all sorts of live data on internet security threats – such as any new malware doing the rounds and known dodgy URLS.

The social network's engineers said the utility, imaginatively dubbed ThreatData, collects software nasties shared by researchers and also throws in intelligence gathered by Facebook plus information it buys from infosec firms.

Unfortunately, these sources each deliver their data in different ways, so ThreatData translates them into a common format. It then cross-references the data with its two existing security databases, Hive (which stores long-term threat data) and Scuba (which stores warnings received in the last few days).

It's just possible Facebook is building a security analysis framework for everyone to use, not just Menlo Park techies, and that ThreatData is the basis for this software.

For now, though, ThreatData remains behind closed doors, but we're told it's impressive, naturally: putting all the threat data under a single roof allows the social network to spot attacks and trends in plenty of time, even ahead of security research companies, Facebook claims.

"We decided we would employ our framework to construct a light-weight set of hashes expressly not detected by our chosen anti-virus product and feed those hashes directly into our custom security event management system," Mark Hammell, threat researcher at Facebook, said on Tuesday.

"The results have been impressive: we've detected both adware and malware installed on visiting vendor computers that no single anti-virus product could have found for us."

Hammell said that ThreatData had also allowed Facebook to tamp down malicious code much more quickly. Last summer, malware that made victims' feature-phones send premium-rate text messages hit Facebook customers, but a similar attack in December was crippled by ThreatData.

The utility is just for Facebook's internal use only at the moment, but a company spokesman reminded us that FB has in the past opened up its homegrown tech to the wider community under open source licenses. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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