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Facebook, Kaspersky tag team in social network malware crackdown

The companies are working together to keep users safe from phishing campaigns, data theft and malware infection.

If malware has been detected on your PC, you will be offered a free download of Kaspersky's cleaner tool. Facebook

Facebook has added Kaspersky to a list of anti-malware companies chipping in to keep malicious activity off the social network.

Facebook is an excellent tool for keeping in touch with friends worldwide. However, a content-sharing network with billions of users is a tempting target for threat actors -- and malicious adverts, phishing campaigns and scams run rife. From 'bargain' designer sale advertisements to malicious links punted across messaging, phishing campaigns in particular take many forms and guises across the network in order to lure victims to part with sensitive information and infect their machines with malware.

Cybercrime can be lucrative and the number of threats rises every year. Keeping users safe, therefore, requires the expertise of antivirus and anti-malware companies, and so Facebook has been working with companies including ESET, F-Secure and Trend Micro over the past year to tackle the problem.

Moscow-based Kaspersky has now also been added to the roster, bringing additional anti-malware firepower to the table.

In a blog post this week, Trevor Pottinger, software engineer from Facebook's Threat Infrastructure team explained:

"To make this program even more effective, Kaspersky Lab is bringing their expertise to our malware cleanup efforts. If we detect malware on your computer, we will offer Kaspersky Malware Scan for Facebook among our other cleanup tools to help take care of the problem.

That means that another leading anti-malware company is helping you keep your computer safe and secure, just by using Facebook. And in the past three months, Kaspersky Lab helped us protect more than 260,000 people accessing Facebook from malware."

Facebook says that in total more than two million people have taken advantage of free malware cleanup services. Rather than taking a "whack-a-mole" approach -- which is untenable considering the size of the social network -- Facebook and the partner companies have begun systematically doing away with clusters of malicious links and campaigns at a time.

"This strategy works well, but to make an even greater impact, we begin a few steps earlier and help fix compromised computers when they connect to Facebook," Pottinger says. "We use a combination of signals to help find infections and get the malware off of your computer for good, even if the malware isn't actively spreading spam or harmful links."

By removing malware from the source before it has a chance to spread across the network, both the user and company itself can benefit. If malware is detected on a system as it connects to Facebook, users are presented with a cleanup tool to eradicate the problem. The cleaner works in the background and users receive a notification when the problem is resolved.

In recent news, Kaspersky admitted the company was the victim of an " almost invisible" cyberattack believed to have been launched by the same threat actors behind a state-sponsored attack in 2011 using sophisticated Duqu malware.

This story originally posted as "Facebook partners with Kaspersky in social network malware crackdown" on ZDNet.