The Security for Everyone series we will be changing things up a bit and spending some time looking at Facebook security apps for the next several episodes. Facebook is among the most visited sites on the Internet, often battling for first place with the search giant Google. This mainstream acceptance of Facebook brings along a plethora of security and privacy concerns. Thankfully there are applications, such as Norton Safe Web and others, that are taking measures to help protect Facebook users from threats. In this episode we will take a look at what Norton Safe Web is capable of and how to enable it when using Facebook. In future episodes we will look at other tools.
What is a Facebook App?
Within the Facebook framework you will undoubtedly stumble upon apps. Apps are web applications designed to work within the context of the Facebook social network. Many times these apps are designed with the intention of enhancing the Facebook experience through games, event notifications and more. You’ll also find utility based applications, which is where the Norton Safe Web app will likely be found.
It’s important to remember that simply because an app is on Facebook does not necessarily make it a friendly app. There are plenty of apps written with nefarious intent; therefore, the same precautions you take elsewhere online should be exercised on Facebook as well.
Norton Safe Web & How it Works
When enabling the Norton Safe Web Facebook app, your first task is finding the application page. I found the easiest way to do this was to simply search for Norton. The first result under apps is the Safe Web application. Selecting the link will deliver you to the Safe Web page.
Once at the application page you have the opportunity to read the application information. If you choose to use the app you just need to select the Go to App link.
Selecting Go to App will result in a permissions prompt being displayed. At this prompt you may choose to Allow Norton Safe Web access to your basic profile information or choose Leave App - which means that the application won’t get installed and you won’t be able to use it but, at the same time, it won’t have access to any of your basic profile information.
If you choose to Allow access you will find another prompt requesting more access to your profile.
Finally, if you have chosen to Allow the requested access up to this point, your feed will be scanned and a report will be displayed indicating the status of links posted to your feed within the last 24 hours. If you do choose to try Norton Safe Web, I recommend you enable the auto-scan feature. This initial report gives you an opportunity to do just this by selecting the Enable Auto-Scan button.
Enabling it does require further access to your profile.
If you choose to allow this final bit of access to your profile, your feed is now set to be scanned for threats every hour and will check links posted to your feed within the last 24 hours. It will also be scanned each time you access the Norton Safe Web app. Unfortunately, accessing the app, and reviewing the report, is the only way you will be notified of a threat. This is a far cry from the set-it and forget-it protection we’ve become accustomed to at the desktop level.
Verdict - Geeks Only!
The main role of Norton Safe Web, in the Facebook context, is to determine if the links posted to your feed might expose you to a threat. A scan of your feed is done each time you access the application; however, you can enable auto-scan which will scan your feed every hour. The downside of this app is that there are no proactive notifications in the from of a message or comment if a link is indeed a threat. The Facebook user is required to access the app and view the report in order to determine if a link should be accessed or not. The Norton Safe Web Facebook app can only be recommended for those geeks among us who are diligent in checking links for ill intent before actually accessing them. Otherwise... using it doesn’t really help much.