Facebook fights malware with free antivirus push

Facebook has introduced the Malware Checkpoint, which helps users fight malware on their computers with free antivirus solutions. Windows users get download links to McAfee Scan and Repair and Microsoft Security Essentials.

Facebook fights malware with free antivirus push

Facebook has launched a service called the Malware Checkpoint. In short, Facebook now directs users who think their computer might be infected to sites where they can get free antivirus software.

This is an extension of an existing service: Facebook already notifies you when it detects a possible malware infection on your machine and provides you with free antivirus software to clean up the infection. Now you can get the same treatment if you are worried about an infection before Facebook spots it.

"Previously, if you suspected you may have malware installed on your device, you would either need to run anti-virus on your device or wait until Facebook identified an actionable threat," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. "Now, with our new self-enrollment malware checkpoint, you will be able to proactively obtain your choice of a free anti-virus product to scan and clean your system."

Facebook offers two products for all of its 901 million monthly active users: McAfee's Scan and Repair as well as Microsoft's Security Essentials. I recommend using the latter. Here's how Facebook differentiates the two options:

  1. The McAfee option will download a small program onto your Windows computer to perform a one-time scan of your system for malware. It will not interfere with your existing anti-virus or other security products. After it scans your system, it will give you the option to automatically or manually remove the files it flags as malicious.
  2. The Microsoft Security Essentials option is a full anti-virus product. Upon download and install, it will add anti-virus software to your computer that will continue to protect your system with the latest anti-virus signatures from Microsoft.

Three months ago, Facebook launched its Antivirus Marketplace after partnering with five companies (Microsoft, McAfee, TrendMicro, Sophos, and Symantec) to provide its users with access to full version antivirus software free for six months. The five companies also agreed to augment Facebook's URL blacklist system with their own URL blacklist databases.

It's worth noting that both of the aforementioned solutions are for Windows. Curiously, Mac users are redirected to the Apple Security Updates site, even though Facebook offers Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac Home Edition on its Antivirus Marketplace.

Still, this is a step in the right direction since the social networking giant is now starting to help users who think they have malware on their systems. Who can complain about that?

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