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Perimeter

2/3/2010
02:15 PM
John H. Sawyer
John H. Sawyer
Commentary
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Updated Tool Targets Facebook Security

Security issues surrounding social networking sites make me cringe. I understand their practical applications, but they are also the platform for easy delivery of exploits through social engineering. I've seen many systems compromised by the unconscious click on a Facebook link that users' nonchalance on similar sites and their trust in the Internet frustrates me to no end.

Security issues surrounding social networking sites make me cringe. I understand their practical applications, but they are also the platform for easy delivery of exploits through social engineering. I've seen many systems compromised by the unconscious click on a Facebook link that users' nonchalance on similar sites and their trust in the Internet frustrates me to no end.You know those users (or family members), right? They're the same ones who are shocked when they get infected because they've got antivirus installed that should have protected them. Then there's the whole problem of sensitive information and personal details being posted so that social engineering them is a piece of cake.

OK, enough ranting. The reason I mention this is because I've been examining a new product that could potentially shield social network users (including companies) from some of the security issues above. Defensio from Websense promises to protect Facebook profiles from spam and malicious content, categorically block links to external Websites, and filter profanity.

What I like about the deployment method of Defensio's Facebook security mechanism is that it's done as a Facebook app. No other software agent must run and remain resident while the user is Web surfing, and there's no Web browser plug-in. Install the app, configure the settings, and it does the rest. Notifications are sent via e-mail when content is detected that violates your policies, and you can review it before taking action.

In addition to the Facebook protection, Defensio also supports WordPress and Drupal, and it has a publicly exposed API for integration with other blogging platforms. The API allows for extensibility to any Web application that allows for comments. Websense provides detailed documentation here on how to use its open API (good job, guys!).

The security of social networking sites has a LONG way to go, and they are realizing it. Facebook recently teamed with McAfee to provide users with a complimentary six-month subscription to the McAfee Internet Security product suite. Nice try...but really? Instead of seeing Facebook push more users to trust AV on the desktop, I would have preferred it implemented something like Defensio natively. Oh well. It's a start, right?

John H. Sawyer is a senior security engineer on the IT Security Team at the University of Florida. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are his own and do not represent the views and opinions of the UF IT Security Team or the University of Florida. When John's not fighting flaming, malware-infested machines or performing autopsies on blitzed boxes, he can usually be found hanging with his family, bouncing a baby on one knee and balancing a laptop on the other. Special to Dark Reading.

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