Facebook has partnered with antivirus firm ESET to offer users the ability to scan their computers for malware directly from inside the social networking site.
Facebook has integrated ESET's technology into its abuse detection and prevention system so that users will be prompted to run the ESET Online Scanner for free when Facebook flags suspicious activity on their accounts or computers, like the posting of malicious links via news feeds and messages.
"Here's how it works: if the device you're using to access our services is behaving suspiciously and shows signs of a possible malware infection, a message will appear offering you an anti-malware scan for your device," said Chetan Gowda, a software engineer with Facebook's Site Integrity Team, in a blog post. "You can run the scan, see the scan results, and disable the software all without logging out of Facebook -- making it seamless and easy to clean up an infected device."
ESET is the third antivirus vendor to integrate its technology directly into Facebook, the social networking site having signed similar partnerships with F-Secure and Trend Micro in May.
Users will likely be prompted to scan their computers with the technology of the vendor that detected the suspicious behavior. In its May announcement, Facebook said that "each product contains distinct malware signatures and is suited to different kinds of threats."
ESET's anti-malware service for Facebook is based on its existing online scanner that's already available on the company's own site. According to the antivirus vendor, 44 millions scans have been performed with the product so far and malware was detected in nearly half of those scans.
Online malware scanners, available through Facebook or otherwise, are good for one-time on-demand scans, but should not be viewed as replacements for locally installed antivirus programs that also include proactive layers of protection.