As more and more aspects of American life center around online activities, authorities are becoming increasingly concerned about cyberfraud. Facebook's security team has led the way on private efforts to protect its users. In a groundbreaking move, the massively popular social network joined forces with the FBI to identify a group of suspects from around the world.
As a result of Facebook's innovative efforts on the inside, suspects from countries like New Zealand, Peru and Britain will likely face international criminal prosecutions for conspiracy or attempted fraud.
The FBI says that arrested 10 people last week - allegedly for using a malware program to infect 11 million computers. The malware apparently helped the defendants cause $850 million in losses due to banking fraud.
An agency press release described Facebook's contribution: "Facebook's security team provided assistance to law enforcement throughout the investigation by helping to identify the root cause, the perpetrators, and those affected by the malware."
This is not Facebook's first foray into investigating cybercrime. The same security experts also used its inside perspective to identify a malware ring known as "Koobface." However, that investigation did not result in any criminal prosecutions. If this more recent private-public collaboration between Facebook and the FBI is any indication, similar cooperation will become much more common in the future. Private companies will be able to secure their services on behalf of members while federal authorities could gain access to powerful analytical resources.
Source: Forbes, "Facebook Helps FBI Smash 11-Million-Machine 'Butterfly' Botnet," Andy Greenberg, Dec. 12, 2012