A recent survey by Norton revealed that 44% of people have been “victim of a cybercrime perpetrated via a social network – viruses, online credit fraud, unsolicited pornography, receiving excessive spam and ‘phishing’ e-mails (bogus messages sent by fraudsters posing as banks and other retail companies).” This number is increasing and the users of Facebook are growing more and more vulnerable to attacks from cyber-terrorists. So, as a user of the largest social networking site on the planet, how do you protect yourself? Norton is here to help answer that question with a FREE application called Norton Safe Web (BETA).
“The truth is that the security team at Facebook works hard to counter threats on their site — it’s just that policing 350 million users can’t be an easy job for anyone…” said Graham Cluley (Sophos) in a recent CNET article. That is where Norton Safe Web steps in. The new tool works much like Web of Trust (WOT) and has already been available as an online service for some time. The folks over at Norton have just integrated it into Facebook for the specific purpose of testing your feed for links to unsafe/malicious content. There are some limitations to this new application, but it is a step in the right direction for Facebook users and their computers.
Using Norton Safe Web
“Installing” the app and testing your feed takes only minutes and a few clicks of a mouse button. First, you’ll need to click on the application page link : http://apps.facebook.com/nortonsafeweb. You’ll be asked to let Norton Safe Web access your profile and feed information (ironic isn’t it). On the first screen, simply click Allow. When prompted about “additional permissions,” you’ll need to grant permissions to Norton by clicking on the text that reads “grant us permission to access your News Feed and Wall.” Finally, you can click on Allow Access to finish out the installation process.
Once installed, Norton Safe Web will automatically run a scan of your feed for the last 24 hours and return the scan results for you to review.
There are several items in the results that stand out. Of course, the green check marks (Safe) and red X’s (Warning) are important and represent the safety of a link within your feed, but that is not all you get.
- Untested – Those question marks (gray circles) indicate that the site has not been reviewed by anyone yet. This doesn’t mean that the link is dangerous, simply that there is no information either way. All of the results from the Norton Safe Web program are taken from user feedback about the site in question.
- Full URL – Often, Facebook users and programs will post a shortened URL on FB. These shortened URLs point to real sites and unfortunately that is how most of these malicious links make their way around the internet. The Safe Web results show you the full URL, in case you are interested in where the link will take you.
- Norton Safe Web Report – If you see a Warning message or simply want to know more information about a link in question, you can click on “See Norton Safe Web Report” to visit the Norton web site and see feedback from users who have posted reviews of the site. The report will have information on computer threats, identity threats, e-commerce safety and annoyance factors.
How to Use Norton Safe Web
The idea of Norton Safe Web (NSW) is great, but the implementation is a little lacking. I don’t think this is Norton’s fault in any way, but simple a restriction of the Facebook design. The problem is that you can only test and see results when you take the time to visit the application. These scans of your feed will not take place automatically and results will not show when you simply visit your Facebook page. Instead, users will have to remember to test their links before clicking on them.
In order to get the most out of this tool and actually remember to use it, I recommend the following steps.
- Click on the Add Bookmark option within the application (shown in the Results image above).
- Then, edit your bookmarks (under your image on left0hand side) by clicking More and then Edit
- Click and drag the Norton Safe Web line up as far as you can take it, then let go
- Click Less and make sure that you can see the bookmark for NSW without expanding your bookmarks
Each day (or session), before clicking on any links that have been shared with you, simply click on the bookmark and Norton will run a complete scan of all of the links in your feed. The test takes a few seconds and won’t really slow down your Facebook experience.
One tool from the Norton Safe Web application that was integrated very well is the Pre-Scanning feature. As someone who shares links and sites in your feed, you can do your part to reduce dangerous site visits by checking your links as you post them. The feature is available under the “Attach:” dropdown box (shown below).
When you click on Safe Web Link Post you’ll be prompted for the URL you want to share and Norton will do the rest. Your link, your message and a Seal of Approval are all posted in the format shown here:
All-in-all, I think Norton has really helped Facebook and it’s users with this FREE step in the right direction. As I mentioned above, the integration could have been a little better and helped all of us who will forget about testing links before clicking on them, but I still feel that the strict rules of Facebook are to blame for that. Add this application to your Facebook bookmarks today and help rid Facebook of the dangerous links and malicious sites.