Facebook has reportedly approached several cybersecurity firms about a potential acquisition, in a move that will likely cost the company hundreds of millions of dollars.

The multi-billion dollar company has formed a team within its corporate development department dedicated to finding potential candidates for the acquisition, according to a source familiar with Facebook’s strategy.

They go on to say that a deal could be reached before the end of the year but refused to identify the companies involved. Official spokespeople are yet to confirm the company’s plans.

It’s likely that the social media powerhouse is searching for technology to integrate into its own systems that would flag unauthorized access and help users to keep their accounts more secure.

This comes after recent data breach scandals, one of which involved ‘political consultancy’ Cambridge Analytica that is said to have manipulated the results of the 2016 US presidential elections using the personal data of up to 87 million Facebook users.

More recently, a group of hackers posing as a digital marketing firm exploited a bug in Facebook’s ‘view as’ feature that allowed them to access the personal data of 30 million users.

This isn’t the first time Facebook has sought to buy in ‘technical talent’, with its 2014 purchase of PrivateCore, a startup that develops software to secure server data.

In light of the recent controversies, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also pledged to double Facebook’s safety and security staff from 10,000 to 20,000 people by the end of 2018.

It’s not just Facebook that is looking to up its game when it comes to cybersecurity, with the likes of Amazon, Google, and other big tech companies investing in the sector, too.

The third quarter of 2018 saw cybersecurity acquisition deals increase by 204% from the second quarter to $5 billion, estimates Momentum Cyber in its Q3 market review.

It’s hard to tell whether an acquisition of this size could solve Facebook’s cybersecurity vulnerabilities and repair its shredded reputation.

A company that stores so much personal data and continues to pass it onto third parties for targeted advertising purposes is surely a huge target for hackers, as recent events have confirmed. Perhaps it’s time for a more privacy-focus social network.