The service is essentially a social network – something the company knows very well – but specifically built for online security professionals.
ThreatExchange was first imagined when several social networks noticed their sites were hosting a spreading spam attack by a botnet – a network of private computers infected with malicious software and controlled without the owners’ knowledge.
“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,” said Mark Hammell, the manager of Facebook’s threat infrastructure team, in a blog posted Wednesday about the TheatExchange’s launch. “During our discussions, it became clear that what we needed was a better model for threat sharing.”
Wednesday’s news comes a day after ISIL supporters hijacked Newsweek's Twitter account and tweeted threats to President Barack Obama, and an announcement that the White House is opening a new agency to share cybersecurity intelligence among different government divisions.
It also comes a week after revelations about a massive breach at the U.S.'s second-largest health insurer, Anthem, that might have compromised the personal information of 80 million customers, and a few months after a crippling cyberattack on film studio Sony Entertainment.
ThreatExchange is built upon Facebook’s well-known platform – home to a global population of some 1.4 billion users – and is centered on consistency, reliability and flexibility. Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter and Yahoo all participated in testing the network in the last few months, and more tech companies such as Dropbox and Bitly are climbing on board.
Even though some of these participants are no doubt Facebook’s competitors, sharing and neutralizing cybersecurity threats is an important enough goal to reach out.
“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 concluded. “That's the beauty of working together on security. When one company gets stronger, so do the rest of us.”