Facebook application to make social networking safer

“Care For Your PC” aimed at boosting social networkers security awareness

A "Care For Your PC" Facebook application that allows users of the social network to monitor how up-to-date the security software on their computer is has been developed by Finnish security company F-Secure.

Users are required to give their computer a "personality" based on its usage model, and earn points for "caring" for their PC by running the application.

The "Care For Your PC" application is simply a Facebook enabled extension of F-Secure's Health Check tool - a free service that monitors how current antivirus, firewall, and spyware products are on a users computer.

The tool also checks for security holes in the operating system, Web browsers, e-mail clients, IM and other popular software such as Microsoft Office and Adobe applications.

Both the Health Check tool and the Facebook enabled version check the status of all brands of security software, including F-Secure's competitors.

"Other than just providing the version number of a program they must upgrade to, we actually have a soft button that they can click on and it will bring them to the relevant Web site where they can download the upgrade," said Bryan Sat, presales engineer for F-Secure South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

"At the end of February, 120,000 users had downloaded the application, with 95,000 of those having actually run the scan," he said.

The Health Check tool follows an F-Secure commissioned study of 1169 Internet users aged 20 to 40 in the US, UK, France and Germany, that tested respondent's knowledge of online security issues and gauged their confidence in the safety of basic online activities.

According to the survey, most respondents believed that their antivirus software was up to date and that effective online security requires more than just antivirus protection. But few realized the frequency with which updates should be made.

"It's concerning to see that so many consumers believe their antivirus definitions are up to date while not understanding how frequently they need to be updated," said Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at F-Secure.

Currently the Health Check tool and its Facebook counterpart are only supported on Internet Explorer version 6 or higher. F-secure was unable to provide a date for when the tool will work in Firefox or Safari, but said support for these browsers is under development.

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Andrew Hendry

Computerworld
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