Facebook just got a security upgrade – let’s hope it works out

Graham Cluley

FacebookFacebook has a new Chief Security Officer, replacing Joe Sullivan who left (presumably in a cab) for Uber three months ago.

Sullivan’s replacement is Alex Stamos, a highly-regarded industry figure who was previously helping Yahoo improve its blemished record when it came to all things security and privacy.

Alex announced his move, appropriately enough, on Facebook:

Alex Stamos announcement

I am very happy to announce that I will be joining Facebook as their Chief Security Officer next Monday.

The Internet has been an incredible force for connecting the world and giving individuals access to personal, educational and economic opportunities that are unprecedented in human history. These benefits are not without risk, and it is the responsibility of our industry to build the safest, most trustworthy products possible.

This is why I am joining Facebook. There is no company in the world that is better positioned to tackle the challenges faced not only by today’s Internet users but for the remaining 2/3rds of humanity we have yet to connect. The Facebook security team has demonstrated a history of innovation as well as a unique willingness to share those innovations with the world, and we will build upon that history in the years to come.

I had a wonderful time at Yahoo and learned that the Yahoo Paranoids truly live up to their legend. Their commitment, brilliance, drive and pioneering spirit made it a pleasure to roll up our sleeves and get to work. Careers are long, and I hope our paths will cross often in the future. I wish all my friends at Yahoo the very best.

Why should you care about this?

Well, Facebook is becoming an ever-more important part of the internet, and decisions it makes regarding the privacy and protection of its billion-plus users not only impact those who have an account on the social network, but also influences the way that other sites behave.

Alex StamosThere’s the potential to do a lot of good at Facebook, which can benefit everyone on the net.

Stamos, for instance, has publicly taken the NSA to task over “encryption backdoors”.

With other recent initiatives such as Facebook offering PGP-encrypted notification emails, one feels that the service is maturing from the days when its leader used to describe its users as “dumb fucks”

I get the feeling that Stamos cares deeply about internet privacy, and that has to be a good voice to have high up inside Facebook.

Let’s hope that it works out, for all our sakes.

If you are on Facebook, and want to be kept updated with news about security and privacy risks, and tips on how to protect yourself online, join the Graham Cluley Security News Facebook page.

Graham Cluley Graham Cluley is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of computer security, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley, or drop him an email.

6 Replies to “Facebook just got a security upgrade – let’s hope it works out”

  1. I use Facebook and Twitter only online,only on occasion,and use every privacy setting offered. They have become way too intrusive,and their apps for Android are some of the worst for permissions.

    As for the disdain facebooks leaderr has for its user's,I had no idea until today,so thanks for that tidbit. But he is probably right. All the more reason for better privacy and security to protect said dumb f#% k's . I do wonder if Stamos will be shocked at what he finds though. Or will he go over to true dark side?

    1. "I use Facebook and Twitter only online"

      Surely they don't have an offline Facebook? Please tell me they don't have an offline Facebook…

      1. Well…. to be fair to him… privacy is an unfortunate myth in many ways. Very unfortunate indeed because invasion of privacy is a huge risk to everyone. But if you consider his situation, the fact he is aware of privacy settings is something, right? I mean not everyone understands how serious it is (if they even think it is an issue at all). Yet indeed facebook has a horrible mindset on privacy. It goes to the very gnarled root of a very young but dark tree (called 'Mark Z.') who believes there isn't anything to worry about if you have nothing to hide. Of course ask him why he hasn't forked over his social security number, his passwords, his keys to his house or anything else… and you see that he not only has things (those things and more) to hide but he also hides his intentions. I think the latter is far more telling.

    2. "As for the disdain facebooks leaderr has for its user's,I had no idea until today"

      I keep reminding people that at Facebook and its ilk, the users are not the customers, they are the product. Mr. Stamos will undoubtedly encounter substantial pressure from above when his initiatives to improve privacy and security adversely affect the organization's goal of harvesting product from the users' data. I wish him luck in his endeavors on behalf of users.

  2. I'm hoping Alex Stamos won't disappoint. I am very concerned about my privacy these days and really limit the way I use Facebook these days. I think my biggest challenge my kids face are who are they connect to on Facebook and sharing info with. My circle has gotten smaller this year..not bigger.

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