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Security & privacy

Secure your Facebook account now with this new tool

At first, a hacked Facebook account was harmless. It usually meant that you walked away from your computer long enough for a friend to post a silly status on your behalf. Then hacked accounts became a nuisance as spambots sent ads to people on your friend list and posted spam in your statuses.

Now, a hacked Facebook account is a threat to your personal security. Hackers can steal your personal information and pictures and use it to set up fake accounts and carry out other malicious acts. Luckily, there’s a new line of security.

Facebook announced today that people can now use a physical key to log into their accounts. If you’re accessing your account from a computer, you can put a device into the USB port that acts as a second form of identification for two-factor authentication. Google and Dropbox already have this feature enabled for account login.

What is two-factor authentication?

With two-factor authentication, you must verify your identity twice before you can log in to your account. Suppose you try to log in to Facebook from a computer you’ve never used before. Once you type in your email address and password, Facebook will ask you to verify that it’s really you and not a hacker. They will send a code to the phone number linked to your account and you must type in that code to access your account.

How to set up two-factor authentication

  • Open Facebook in your browser. Click the downward triangle in the top-right corner of the page and select “Settings.”
  • Click “Security” in the left column to go to the Security Settings screen. In the right column click “Login Approvals” and then click the checkbox for “Require a security code to access my account from unknown browsers.”
  • Follow the directions to add your cellphone number to your account.

You can manage what browsers are “known” and “unknown” in the “Your Browsers and Apps” area on the Security Settings screen. If your phone or computer is lost or stolen, go into this section and remove that gadget’s browser(s) from the list. That means whoever has your gadget won’t be able to get into your account. Facebook can also email you whenever an unfamiliar browser tries to access your account. This is a good way to learn if someone is trying to access your account without your permission. To get this feature, go back to the Security Settings screen and turn on “Login Notifications.”

A few days ago, we reported that one in five Facebook accounts are being spied on, usually by nosy people or jealous spouses. While two-factor authentication is great, it may not help in this scenario if the person snooping is doing it through your device. Since Security Keys act as a second form of verification, you would put your key into your computer instead of typing in a code to confirm your identity.


Where to find a Security Key

  • It needs to be a Universal 2nd Factor (U2F) that supports FIDO, which is a set of security standards for strong authentication.
  • Facebook suggested the manufacturer Yubico. Prices range from $18 to $50.
  • Amazon sells U2F Security Keys from several manufacturers, such as HyperFido, Neowave, and Keydo. Prices range from $5 to $50.

How to register your Security Key

  • Open Facebook in your browser. Click the downward triangle in the top-right corner of the page and select “Settings.”
  • Click “Security in the left column to go to the Security Settings screen. In the right column click “Login Approvals” and then “Add Key.”
  • Insert your Security Key into your computer’s USB port and follow the prompts on your screen.

Other ways to secure your online accounts

What if a criminal steals your phone and the security key? Here are some other ways to protect yourself.

  • Change your passwords periodically
  • Set up two-factor authentication
  • Delete accounts you don’t use anymore

For more tips and details about securing all of your online accounts, read this article and watch this video to learn how to hack-proof your life.

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