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Facebook & Twitter Announce Steps To Control Access To Malicious Websites


The Big Google has been known to take steps and rate sites that carry a potential risk to the search users. ‘This site may cause harm to your computer’ is one such message that shows right next to potentially risky sites to give the users a forewarning on the malicious nature of the site that is displayed in the search results. I do wonder at times as to why Google simply does not drop such sites that have been marked for potential risks. And the only reasoning that seems to explain this behaviour is the fact that this would involve a sort of manual intervention that the Google team may not want to exercise. So, rather than playing with the algorithm, they just let the algorithm rank the sites and issue warnings if there is something amiss.

Now, this particular feature has been a part of the Google search results for quite some time now. And, the past 2 weeks have actually seen both, Twitter and Facebook announcing steps to control access to the malicious websites. In both cases, the intent is to give the user a forewarning that the website they are about to visit has malicious code that could cause a negative impact on the user’s computer or the information stored therein.

If you look at the implementation strategy that Facebook intends to use, then it is very clear that Facebook is looking at the expertise of Websense to evaluate and mark malicious websites in real-time. The actual implementation of such a malware detection in realtime is something that we are not sure of because it is clear that the intra-communication between Facebook and Websense servers could eventually lead to degraded performance for the Facebook users. Without getting into the nitty-gritty of the actual steps, it is clear that Facebook’s step in evaluating the links against known threats is one step in the right direction and will eventually benefit the end users.

Coming to Twitter, the strategy to control access to malicious websites is based around the new URL shortening service that is on offer at Twitter. T.co is the new domain that will be used to shorten all the URLs on Twitter and anytime you post a link inside a tweet, then it will automatically get shortened. Once the link gets shortened, the link will be checked against a pre-existing database to check for the overall quality and health. If it is found to be pointing to a site that has malicious code, or if it is a spam site or a phishing site, then the user will receive a warning on the same.

The treatment meted out to such malicious websites is unclear when you try to tweet them. Whether Twitter will allow the URL to be tweeted after a warning or it will simply disallow that URL to be spread through Twitter is something that needs clarity. My guess is that the malicious website won’t be propagated over the twitter platform and it would make sense because of the viral nature of the Twitter platform.

Essentially, all this points to one direction. Be it Facebook or Twitter or the search sites, it is clear that all these sites need to refine their code to enhance user security and safety. The last thing such sites would want is a compromised security for the end user. Not only does it set the user security behind by a few years, but such transgressions on the user security could later become a part of a lawsuit that nobody wants to handle.

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