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Facebook Diversifies Into Cyber-Security

One of the key characteristics of the disruptive technologies is that one can often find new players in a particular area of activity that one might not have initially expected to be there.

For example, as the banks continue to come under fire for a host of real and imagined misdemeanours, it is becoming clearer that their space is not as invulnerable to competition as it might once have been.

The opportunities offered by crowd funding for those looking for different forms of capital, highlight a significant diversification for those looking to finance new businesses, ideas or projects.

We can expect diversification in retail banking as well. Operations such as Facebook, Amazon, E-Bay, indeed anyone with very large retail customer bases, would seem to be obvious potential players in the retail financing space, especially at a time when the banks have clearly lost their edge.

Potential competition aside, one area that the banks are having to deal swiftly with is cyber-crime and cyber-security. Cyber-attacks have climbed in recent years most recently marked by the high media profile attack on Sony in the latter part of 2014. Most recently, the Moscow headquartered Kaspersky Lab has highlighted a highly organised, internationally based, billion dollar fraud targeting up to a hundred financial institutions in an apparent crime that looks like it commenced in 2013 and is still on-going.

Not before time, the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center, was set up in the latter part of 2014 in an effort to get financial institutions to share cyber-attack information and present a concerted front to the hackers. This is a profile which the hackers have been much more successful at presenting compared to those on the side of the 'angels', until now.

Sharing information has to be a key strategy in the accelerating battle against cyber-crime.

So much so, that Facebook's recent initiative to set up ThreatExchange as a facility for companies to share clues about the behaviour of cyber-criminals, is actually quite significant.

The facility is based upon a system Facebook developed to tackle cyber-threats aimed at itself. It also exemplifies apparent moves made by the firm to move outside its traditional social interaction space.

The cyber-security service is being given away for free. More disruptivity in the cyber-security space especially for that first generation of operators? You bet. Facebook's early diversifications outside its traditional space will be worth watching.

Disclosure: The author has no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.