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Facebook launches platform for companies to share security threat data

Facebook has launched ThreatExchange, a platform for tech companies to share security threats to their systems

You might use Facebook to share Hawaiian vacation pics with your friends and relatives. Now, Dropbox, Bitly, Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, Yahoo and other tech companies are using Facebook to share information about threats to their computer systems.

Facebook on Wednesday introduced ThreatExchange, a platform where partner companies can query available cybersecurity threat information and publish their own.

The incentive to create ThreatExchange came a little more than a year ago, when a group of technology companies came together to discuss automated spam attacks on their servers.

"We quickly learned that sharing with one another was key to beating the botnet because parts of it were hosted on our respective services and none of us had the complete picture," Mark Hammell, manager of the threat infrastructure team at Facebook, said in a blog post Wednesday. "During our discussions, it became clear that what we needed was a better model for threat sharing."

Facebook said it took the lead on a shared information system because its main business is operating a vast social network built upon users sharing their lives with one another, making the task a "natural" fit.

ThreatExchange was built upon an internal threat analysis system it had created called ThreatData.

ThreatExchange includes a set of privacy controls so that participating firms can share only with the group or groups they wish.

"Our goal is that organizations anywhere will be able to use ThreatExchange to share threat information more easily, learn from each other's discoveries, and make their own systems safer," Hammell said. "That's the beauty of working together on security. When one company gets stronger, so do the rest of us."

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