McAfee Social Protection Blurs and Locks Down Your Photos on Facebook

If you’ve been shying away from posting your photographs to Facebook because you don’t want them stolen, security software company McAfee has come up with a solution for you. It’s a new tool called McAfee Social Protection, and helps you protect your photos using invite lists, blurring, and lock-down.

The system uses a special browser plug-in that must be used in order to view the uploaded photographs.

The software acts like magic glasses; anyone who isn’t using the plug-in and who isn’t on your photos’ guest list will simply see blurred versions of the images.

As a collaboration between McAfee and Intel, the photographs are actually uploaded to Intel servers rather than Facebook’s.

An interesting feature of the plug-in is that it can fully guard your images… from your friends. Since everything is viewed using McAfee’s software, they can have more control than existing photo sharing sites.

One common way that people try to protect images is to disable right-clicking in order to prevent people from saving the files. The obvious loophole in this type of system is screenshots: anyone can simply hit the “Print Screen” button to snag a copy of photos.

McAfee’s app prevents both these methods of thievery. If your guest attempts either one, a padlock graphic appears over your image denying the attempt.

Obviously, if your photo burglar really wanted to, they could still pull out a physical camera and take a “screen shot” of their monitor. If that’s what you’re worried about, however, you should probably be burying your photos in the ground or blanketing them with watermarks.

The main problem with the app is that it requires everyone involved to use the special app and special plug-in — something most people might not be comfortable doing.

Social Protection launches at the end of August for PCs, and will arrive on Mac, iOS, and Android by the end of the year. No word on pricing, but initially it will be free.

McAfee Social Protection (via Mashable via Xatakafoto)

  • Julian

    Anyone with more brain cells than teeth can tell you this is stupid and defeats the whole point of sharing photos. I sincerely hope you got paid to blog about this software and that’s the only reason for the seemingly upbeat appraisal of this piece of trash, otherwise god help you.

  • Michael Zhang

    Was definitely not paid, and probably should have been more critical. Just passing along the idea, since the disable-right-click method is used a lot online.

  • Russ Catalano

    A whole lot of posts seem more towards one company or another and paid, but this one really didn’t, it’s pointless like sharing unlisted youtube videos, but if people really want some photos private this could work.

  • Michael Zhang

    You feel like posts here seem like companies paid for them?

    I’m proud to say we’ve never received a single cent for anything we’ve published here from the companies we write about :) (we HAVE been offered many times though)

  • Jim M. Goldstein

    Thanks for the heads up to this Michael. It’ll be interesting to see how well this is executed and adopted. People intent on stealing photos may yet find a work around, but still it’s neat to see the thinking that goes into these types of tools. It’d be interesting to give it a test run to see how well it actually works, perhaps you can put it through its paces and write a follow up.

    Julian I think you miss the point. Facebook provides privacy settings, but they’re often in flux. If someone is intent on sharing photos with a limited audience then this might provide a good alternative with better security. Accusing Michael of making money on the post is unnecessarily rude. If you have a point try being a little more civil and less of an ass. Michael has always gone out of his way to be professional in his writing and dealings here.

  • bob

    I wonder if option shift f4 would still work on a mac? nothing seems to be able to disable that

  • mirror3rror

    Where there is a will there is a way. If you allow a user to see the image they only need to think outside of the box to capture it. You mention using a physical camera but what about utilizing a virtual machine or sandboxed browser (both becoming more and more common) and using a screen capture program or function outside of the vm or sandbox wouldn’t have any function? There is no way in the world this program would stop that from happening. Ultimately if you live in fear that someone is going to steal your images they are best never being uploaded or shared.

  • Anthony

    Can’t they still just view the page source and go directly to the jpg link and save it from there?

  • Matt

    What about people who only want to share with family and friends, and not the whole world? Do they defeat the whole point of sharing?

  • Mike

    No, there is a plugin involved not just a jpg on a page.

  • Mike

    This is useless, who is going to install a plugin to view shared images? If my friends start using this and tell me I need to install something to view it I’ll tell them to buzz off. A product doomed to fail.

  • mrbeard

    This is a good idea, its for stupid people (the masses) like me that cant add extra code or program websites, “right click save” fear has made me put smaller low-res images on my website, i’d love to upload the full size images

  • branden rio

    Not everyone agrees with Russ

  • Stupid

    No… but you can already do that in FB, without the need for a stupid plugin that no one else is going to want to insert.

  • Brian

    I doubt this can block the Windows Snipping Tool present in Windows 7 and greater. It captures what is actually on the screen, and it doesn’t issue a print screen command of any sort.

  • Tim Burton

    bet it doesnt work with a mac

  • Tim Burton

    but yet on facebook there is a simple drop down in the album

  • Markus Wolpert

    Two thoughts:
    1.) Plugin or no pic? I take the “no pic” option.
    2.) Wonder if its immune to Vidcap like FRAPS or anything like that.

  • Theranthrope

    How about people come the the realization that, when you’re sharing photos on the web: YOU’RE SHARING PHOTOS ON THE WEB.
    No one is “stealing” anything here, when someone goes to you page, they are not actually GOING to your page, they made a request via http and you’re sending the images to them, via a third party website like Facebook or flckr. What they do with it on their end, on their computer or phone, is their business, the only exception being is in cases of plagiarism, but plagiarism is a completely separate problem which this software is NOT a solution to.
    You are asserting rights that you don’t actually have.

  • Theranthrope

    Who is “stealing” what, exactly? Saving an image to my harddrive is fair use. As long as I’m not trying to claim your image is mine and use it to make money (plagiarism), I’m well-within copyright to keep it for my own personal use.
    Quit claiming rights that you do not actually have.

  • Theranthrope

    I wonder how long it will take for law-enforcement to find ways to combat or circumvent this plugin, because I can just see child-pornographers, drug-dealers, and prostitutes, using this software to “hide in plain sight” while publicly advertising their illegal “wares”.

  • Theranthrope

    I wonder about that, because the plugin looks to be just a cheap remote-proxy-sever, which serves up the “un-fuzzed” image instead of the “fuzzed” image, but that “un-fuzzed” image has to be stored somewhere, and the most likely place is on Facebook’s own machines.
    Which is unfortunate… for anyone using this software, because facebook again and again, has shown that it has weak security vs http forging, image-scraping, and cross-site scripting attacks.

  • Theranthrope

    Breaking this software would make for a good talk at next-year’s DEFCON or Blackhat conventions…

  • John Milleker

    It it was anyone other than McAfee then maybe but still highly doubtful, I’m already shielding my computer and the computers of family and friends from rogue McAfee anti-virus installs bundled with other software. Once they started doing this McAfee has been dead to me, not like I liked their Anti-Virus product before then anyway.

  • sebas

    I believe you didn’t use it at all and you’re only talking without even knowing how it works…