Facebook is showing a real commitment to improving user security today with its announcement that it’ll now support USB security keys as part of its two-factor account authentication.
Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to your Facebook account. When you attempt to log in to your profile from a new device you’re sent a security code via SMS to enter in addition to your password, making it much harder for someone else to access your account even if they have your standard entry code.
With USB security keys, your second factor of authentication becomes a physical device that you plug into your computer instead.
This does of course mean that you have to carry your security key around with you everywhere in the event that you’ll have to use it, and you also have to make sure you have the latest version of Chrome or Opera installed. But it has the benefit of being more immediate than an SMS.
Keep it secret, keep it safe
In addition, they’re also secure against phishing attacks as you don't have to enter a code yourself and the hardware provides cryptographic proof that it's in your machine.
As services such as Google, Dropbox, and Github already support security keys as part of their two-factor authentication systems and these keys can be used for multiple accounts, it could end up being the most convenient way for you to keep multiple accounts safe.
However, more people than ever now use Facebook on their mobile rather than on their computers.
Though Facebook doesn’t support USB security keys on its mobile app, it has made it possible for users with NFC-capable Android devices with the latest version of Chrome and Google Authenticator installed to use NFC-capable keys to log in from the mobile site.
Facebook is the first major platform to support these fairly new NFC-capable keys and it’s a fairly limited system since it only works on Android devices with the Facebook mobile site rather than its app.
This means that it probably won’t be widely picked up by Facebook users right away, but it’s a good indication of what will be possible in terms of account security on mobile in the future.
That's not all Facebook has done to make its users feel more secure, either. Though it's a smaller chance, the social media giant has also improved its Privacy Basics page to make it easier for people to control what they're revealing about themselves on Facebook.
Though the privacy options themselves haven't changed, the new page is more clearly laid out and makes it easier to understand what information can be seen by whom. If you still get lost, it also has 32 interactive guides in 44 languages to keep you on track.