Oct. 16, 2012 at 7:58 AM ET
Facebook is adding seven companies to the five it already has on board to provide users with anti-virus protection, and said Tuesday many of those partners will also offer anti-virus software for mobile devices.
The social network started its Anti-Virus Marketplace last April. There, Facebook users can download six-month licenses — and in some cases, longer — to full versions of anti-virus software at no charge from Microsoft, McAfee, TrendMicro, Sophos or Symantec.
Now joining the Anti-Virus Marketplace are Avast!, AVG, Avira, Kaspersky, Panda, Total Defense and Webroot.
"Not only do we have new partners but also many of our existing partners ... will begin offering anti-virus software for your mobile devices," Facebook said in a statement.
The protection is welcome, considering the social network is not a small, cozy hub, even though it may feel that way to users, who now total 1 billion around the world.
Graham Cluley, of Sophos, said his company's offering through Facebook is "free for life."
"We see malware and malicious links spread via Facebook all the time, so it's a good idea to be running protection if you're on the site, just as with any other part of the Net," he said in email comments to NBC News.
"It doesn't — of course — make any difference whether you download your anti-virus software from Facebook's security center or from the anti-virus vendor's website. Just do it!"
Since the Anti-Virus Marketplace launched, more than 30 million users have visited it, Facebook said.
All companies involved with the AV Marketplace are also working to improve Facebook's "URL blacklist system," the company said in a statement.
That system "scans trillions of clicks" every day, consulting "the databases of all our AV Marketplace partners to make sure the website you are about to visit (via Facebook) is safe. This means that whenever you click a link on our site you are protected both by Facebook" and the security company partners who have signed on with Facebook.
Even the best security can't stop some hoaxes, though, including a recent recurring tale that Facebook is going to start charging its users. Facebook says adamantly that is not true.