Risk
1/24/2011
12:06 PM
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Facebook Defends Security Practices

The social network responds to report alleging it puts the safety of its 650 million users at risk by not better securing third-party applications.

Top 15 Facebook Apps For Business
(click image for larger view)
Slideshow: Top 15 Facebook Apps For Business

Is Facebook's app system inherently unsafe for the social network's 650 million users?

Responding to that exact criticism, the company last week issued a statement defending its security practices. "We have a dedicated team that does robust review of all third-party applications, using a risk-based approach. That means that we first look at velocity, number of users, types of data shared, and prioritize," said Facebook. "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."

The company's statement was issued in reaction to a new threat report from Sophos, released on Wednesday. According to the report, "with furious debate raging every time privacy and security settings are tweaked on Facebook, it seems that functionality and ease-of-use triumph over security every time."

To better protect users, the report recommended that Facebook take a page from Apple and adopt a walled garden approach, in which applications would require "official approval before they can be uploaded to the site and shared with other users."

In its statement, however, Facebook seemed to stand by its post-screening security process. "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," said Facebook. "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."

But Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, said the current approach can't keep up with the volume of new threats. "Facebook Security is effectively playing whack-a-mole, hammering the latest rogue app whenever they happen to spot it, and hoping that not too many accounts were compromised in the meantime. Unfortunately, quite often Facebook Security don't seem to spot the scams until they have spread far and wide."

Interestingly, the Sophos report released on Wednesday also found that "more than half of the companies surveyed imposed no limitations on accessing Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn -- and less than a quarter of firms completely block these sites."

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading Must Reads - September 25, 2014
Dark Reading's new Must Reads is a compendium of our best recent coverage of identity and access management. Learn about access control in the age of HTML5, how to improve authentication, why Active Directory is dead, and more.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2012-5619
Published: 2014-09-29
The Sleuth Kit (TSK) 4.0.1 does not properly handle "." (dotfile) file system entries in FAT file systems and other file systems for which . is not a reserved name, which allows local users to hide activities it more difficult to conduct forensics activities, as demonstrated by Flame.

CVE-2012-5621
Published: 2014-09-29
lib/engine/components/opal/opal-call.cpp in ekiga before 4.0.0 allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (crash) via an OPAL connection with a party name that contains invalid UTF-8 strings.

CVE-2012-6107
Published: 2014-09-29
Apache Axis2/C does not verify that the server hostname matches a domain name in the subject's Common Name (CN) or subjectAltName field of the X.509 certificate, which allows man-in-the-middle attackers to spoof SSL servers via an arbitrary valid certificate.

CVE-2012-6110
Published: 2014-09-29
bcron-exec in bcron before 0.10 does not close file descriptors associated with temporary files when running a cron job, which allows local users to modify job files and send spam messages by accessing an open file descriptor.

CVE-2013-1874
Published: 2014-09-29
Untrusted search path vulnerability in csi in Chicken before 4.8.2 allows local users to execute arbitrary code via a Trojan horse .csirc in the current working directory.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
In our next Dark Reading Radio broadcast, we’ll take a close look at some of the latest research and practices in application security.