One of the most used security applications for Facebook is named secure.me. This free application is developed by Avast! and it promises to protect both your Facebook account and that of your child. But, is it a good security application? Is it worth using? Let's find out in this review.
How to Install & Enable Secure.me
The process for installing secure.me is lengthier than that of other Facebook security products. First go to its application page and start the installation process: secure.me on Facebook.
You are asked whether you would like to protect your Facebook profile or that of your child. When selecting the second option, you can send an invitation via e-mail to your child. If he or she accepts, secure.me is installed on your child's Facebook profile.
Then, you are asked how to set up the connection to Facebook. You can check a box that allows secure.me to post on your Facebook wall, when problems are found.
After you click Connect my profile, Facebook asks you to allow secure.me to access lots of personal information. Out of all the security applications we tested, this is the only that requests access to absolutely all your personal data.
Then, you are asked to confirm if you allow it to post to Facebook on your behalf.
Last but not least, Secure.me requests the approval for managing your notifications. I found this strange but I went ahead to see how it works and why such approvals might be necessary.
Finally, the secure.me dashboard is displayed.
At first, there is no data being shown. You should activate its automatic monitoring feature or start a manual scan, in order to access any kind of useful data.
What Does Secure.me Do?
The scanning process is very lengthy. Secure.me scans all your Facebook activity and that of your friends. If you have a long list of friends, the process will be very slow.
At the end of the scan, you are shown many reports, split into several sections:
- Summary - it shares a brief visual report, plus some rankings for the main security areas evaluated by secure.me.
- Photos - it shares the photos you posted and those posted by your friends, where you were tagged. This report only replicates existing Facebook notifications. Plus, it is very worrying that this application has access to all these photos. Why would they want them?
- Activities - displays the latest user activities, status updates, comments, likes, places and friends. Again, it is only duplicating existing Facebook notifications.
- Privacy analysis - it scans all the personal information you shared on Facebook and displays a report with possible security issues. I found this report to be very paranoid and fear inducing.
- Profile analysis - it scans your recent posts and shares those which it finds questionable. This report only produced "false positives" for me. To give you an example, it considered that my sharing of this music video as questionable content. It is only a video of a song by Within Temptation. :)
- Network analysis - it scans all the posts made by your friends in the last 7 days and displays those that are identified as questionable. Also, it displays the mood of your friends. Again, this made me paranoid - why this app analyzes the mood of my friends? What does this have to do with security?
I was mentioning earlier that the privacy analysis made by secure.me is paranoid and designed to induce fear. For example, it says that my hometown should be visible to friends only and that this information is a possible threat to security. But, my Facebook account is already set to show this information only to friends. Therefore, if I'm respecting the recommendation given by this application, why am I still warned about this?
Another example: secure.me says that sharing your family members on Facebook is a high threat to privacy, even though this information is shared only with your friends and it is not publicly available to everyone. Then, if you read their recommendation, it states that this information should be available only to your friends or be removed from your Facebook account. Again, I found this warning to be artificial and designed only to induce fear.
If you use the app more frequently and try to configure it in detail, you learn that this product has many problems. It is an unfinished beta product, even though it is not marketed as one.
For example, manual scans can be performed only once every 20 minutes. If you have changed your settings according to its recommendations, you have to wait in order to get another evaluation.
Also, you cannot configure its individual notification settings even though the necessary switches are available. They are grayed out and cannot be used. Then, all the notifications can be set so that they are shared on a weekly basis or never, even though the switches can be set also to daily or immediate notifications. However, when setting them to these positions, your setting is not saved. :)
If there's an immediate security threat, you are notified by it only at the end of the week, which defeats the whole purpose of using a security application.
Verdict - An Unfinished Security Application for Facebook
At the end of my testing day, I was disappointed by secure.me. It is a product that accesses way too much personal data and it provides very little security in return. I felt very uncomfortable when seeing how much data it scanned and collected. Then, its bugs and unfinished features only made things worse. I consider secure.me to be a buggy & paranoia inducing application rather than a real security product for Facebook. I strongly recommend you to stay away and try other products.