McAfee peddles wares to millions in Facebook deal

Security giants lose out in global contract

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McAfee has beat off rivals in a deal with Facebook which will allow it to promote its security suite to the website’s 350 million users and make it mandatory for victims of compromised accounts to use its online scanning tool.

The exclusive deal runs across 11 of Facebook’s largest global sites including the US, UK, Australia and Germany, and is set to roll out across the remaining sites early this year.

Victims who have had their account compromised will be required to run the McAfee online scanner as part of a process to access their accounts. Users will also be offered free six-month subscriptions to McAfee’s Internet suite and a discounted rate for retail subscriptions.

Facebook, which added a verification process in July last year to mitigate the risk of hacked accounts, presently directs concerned users to a Microsoft security web page which lists security solutions from Symantec, Eset, and AVG alongside McAfee.

McAfee consumer, mobile and small business executive, Todd Gebhart, said the security offering will reduce the amount infections by malware.

“We believe our partnership will make a real difference in the battle to secure the Internet,” Gebhart said in a written statement.

Facebook global communications vice president, Elliot Schrage, said it will not accept revenue from McAfee subscriptions.

“[It is] an unprecedented step towards making the entire Internet more secure and reducing the possibility of threats being brought onto our service by unsuspecting users,” Schrage said. “Keeping the Internet secure requires that users, security vendors and Internet companies all work together.”

The value of the deal was not disclosed. The two companies will also develop educational content for Facebook’s security page.

Hot on the heels of a flaw found by an online privacy advocacy group which was used to commandeer 289 Facebook groups, a vamped-up version of the Koobface worm was found late last year crawling its way into the social network's walls. The worm typically works by taking over your PC and sending what appears to be funny videos or risqué photos of friends. Anybody who follows the links, however, ultimately end up infected with the malware — usually by way of a bogus software update that pops up on-screen.

A 2007 McAfee study, quoted in the prepared statement, claimed up to 78 per cent of consumers do not have updated antivirus, an enabled firewall and anti-spyware, while 48 per cent have expired antivirus software.

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