Facebook turns to Websense for malicious URL detection

The goal is to protect users from clicking on links that take them to phishing and malware sites

Facebook has partnered with security vendor Websense to protect its users from third-party malicious URLs spammed on the social networking website, the companies said on Monday.

Facebook has been plagued by malware distribution campaigns, survey scams and other types of threats for years now and despite the company's best efforts the attacks continue.

The site's blocking mechanisms have improved over time, but spammers are very determined to find ways around them since social media has become one of the primary malware propagation channels.

Most attacks involve users clicking on links that point to malicious web pages outside of Facebook's control, so to counter this, the company passes requests to external resources through its own URL redirector.

This allows it to check links against third party and self-maintained blocklists. Earlier this year, the company announced a partnership with Web of Trust (WOT), a provider of community-powered URL reputation services, in order to better detect spam links on the website.

But with attackers capable of switching malicious URLs very quickly it's hard to keep up using only a blacklist-based approach. That's why Facebook chose Websense, which brings to the table a cloud-based scanning engine capable of checking third-party pages in real-time before allowing users to visit them.

"Every day, Websense Security Labs works to discover, investigate, and report on advanced internet threats that are designed to circumvent antivirus products. By providing real-time protection from malware, spyware, inappropriate content, data leaks, and spam, we make it safe for people and businesses to use the web," said Websense's Chief Technology Officer Dan Hubbard in a statement.

When the Websense ThreatSeeker platform detects malicious content, users get notified that proceeding to the destination is potentially unsafe. Of course, to work around any false positive incidents that might occur, the option to ignore the alerts will also be available.

"Facebook cares deeply about protecting users from potentially malicious content on the internet. We are excited about our partnership with Websense to provide industry leading tools to help our users protect themselves," commented Dan Rubinstein, Facebook's product manager for site integrity, in a statement.

The partnership has yet to prove its effectiveness on the world's largest social networking website, but giving the current attack rate any form of additional protection is most probably a good thing. Bit.ly is also using Websense technology to block malicious URLs, but just like Facebook, it does it in conjunction with solutions from multiple providers.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Internet-based applications and servicesantispamonline safetysecuritysocial networkingscamssocial mediainternetFacebook

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?