This week we continue the Security for Everyone series by looking at the Facebook security application called BitDefender Safego. This app is affixed with the BETA label but handles scanning your wall and news feed for links to threats, as well as helping you understand what personal information may be leaking as a result of the choices you’ve made with privacy settings. Let’s move into the Facebook ecosystem and learn if BitDefender Safego can help you stay safe when using this social network.
What is a Facebook App?
Apps are an integral part of the Facebook experience for many users. The Facebook app brings opportunities for greater social interaction, entertaining distraction and unfortunately may also broaden your threat landscape as well. Apps are available in numerous categories and more are being written all the time.
While you may not choose to use apps in abundance your friends might, and depending on their privacy settings these applications posts could appear in your Facebook feed as well. As a result, this introduces the issue of leaving you vulnerable to the threats posed by your friends apps. Caution needs to be the rule of the day. Thankfully, BitDefender has made available in Safego an application that helps the Facebook user experience some of the safeguards that can be found in desktop security solutions.
Enabling BitDefender Safego
When allowing any application to interact with your Facebook account, it’s a good idea to first review the application information to confirm it is a good fit for you. BitDefender Safego makes this a simple task and the information provided gives you enough insight to allow you to make an informed decision. The first step requires visiting the BitDefender Safego page.
Selecting the ’Let’s see the App’ button displays the application permissions prompt which details the interaction it requires with your profile. If you choose to allow these permissions, the app will be enabled for your profile. Then, an initial scan will be performed and the Safego dashboard will be presented.
The Safego application dashboard appears quite useful. The following image provides a broad view and description of its capabilities. We’ll look at the dashboard in more detail in the following section.
Using BitDefender Safego
Once Safego is enabled, you are protected 24/7. The posts and comments that are added to your wall and news feed are scanned heuristically in the cloud, using BitDefender antimalware and anti-phishing engines.
Whenever it detects a post/comment that is likely to be spam or part of a phishing/malware dissemination scheme, it will post a warning comment which will also be visible to all those who can see your Wall and News Feed.
If a threat is detected, typically in the form of spam or related to phishing/malware, Safego will post a warning comment that will be visible to anyone who can see your wall posts or news feed. If a threat is detected you can access the Safego application and choose to either remove the link from your wall or notify your friend of a threat on their wall. The key to this process working well is the initial comment warning you of the threat. Without this step, there is the possibility that you could forget you ever enabled Safego in the first place. Safego can also post a weekly status update to your wall which serves as another nice reminder the application is doing its job.
Once the application is enabled, you may access the Safego dashboard by visiting the app page. The dashboard gives you an opportunity to force a scan of your wall and news feed. The scan is completed quickly and updated information is displayed in the stats section
The dashboard gives you a peek into the latest items scanned which I consider a way to keep the app honest. At the very least, this can be used as an indicator that Safego is staying current with the activity in your Facebook wall and news feed. You may also adjust a few settings in the dashboard. These settings turn on or off the ability for Safego to scan your inbox, post to your wall or publish the weekly summary to your wall.
If infected items are found in your wall posts, comments or news feed, they will be displayed in the infected items section. Here you have the option to remove the link from your wall or notify a friend of the threat if the issue originated from their wall. You’ve also got a handy button for quick access to the BitDefender Safego wall, where you’ll find some frequently asked questions, application information and a very active Safego team, responding to questions and looking into issues with false positives and the like.
The final two areas of the app dashboard include a space to display the latest threats, which is currently “Coming Soon”, and an area which rates the privacy level of your Facebook profile. The privacy section is quite interesting and does a very good job of breaking down the various privacy settings into an easy to read privacy meter.
Using the Adjust Settings button you can get right into your Facebook privacy settings and tweak them to suit your needs and comfort level.
Consistent review of the Safego app will display the updated privacy meter and items requiring your attention.
Facebook recently introduced the ability to experience the site entirely over HTTPS, a secure communication protocol. Unfortunately, many apps do not work properly when browsing via HTTPS and this includes Safego. As of this writing, The Safego team is working to address this, as evidenced by the statements on their wall and in their news feed. Facebook is also working to correct these remaining issues with HTTPS since they would like to make HTTPS the default way you browse Facebook in the future.
Verdict - Good for Grandma!
Desktop security has become commonplace and certain expectations have been established. This is not true of the security applications and expectations surrounding online communities. BitDefender has done a fine job of responding to this need with Safego. The scanning appears to work well and I will go so far as to say the privacy meter is something that every Facebook user should use. Safego does carry the BETA label which implies it is a work in progress. I think this bodes well for the future of Safego. If this is the BETA, I look forward to the final version.