If you’ve ever been concerned about the integrity of your Facebook account, and keeping out the online creepers, there is a simple step you can take that will greatly increase the security of your social soap box.
Most people consider their password a good enough security measure to prevent unwanted access to their information. While your password may be unique and seem infrangible, the truth of the matter is that passwords are pretty weak and really only give you an illusion and false sense of security when it comes to protection. Now days, passwords are easily cracked by many simple programs, and the information you use to access any of your online accounts is often saved by browsers where even accessing them on public WiFi can leave you open to attack.
Luckily there is a way that you can notably boost your security using an option called Two-Factor Authentication. Two-Factor Authentication is an easy feature that requires you to use “something you know”, like your password, and “something you have”, like your phone.
Here’s how Two-Factor Authentication works:
The first step is to log into your account with your username and password like usual. The second step is to enter an authentication code. Think of it like entering a PIN when you use an ATM. Swiping your card provides the information that identifies your account, the authentication code is like entering your PIN to gain access.
The second part of the equation is the key, your phone provides you with a way to receive the authentication code. Although, you don’t necessarily have to have a phone in order to get an authentication code, it is the easiest and most practical mode of delivery. The authentication codes can be sent via SMS text message, by using a code generator, or by using pre-generated codes.
The point of the code is that no matter where you are or what device you use to access your account, you must have the authentication code to gain access to your account. Right now you’re probably thinking that seems a little inconvenient to enter a password and then have to enter a code just to get access to your account. Don’t panic just yet, for devices that you use all the time you have the option to associate the authentication code with the browser of that device. So every time you log into Facebook on your phone, you don’t have to enter a new code. That seems a little easier right?
Now, it is important to note that each authentication code you use can only be saved and associated to one browser. So if you use your Facebook app, you’ll enter a code for that. If you access your Facebook on Safari on your iPhone, you’ll assign another code for that, and if you access it on your computer then you’ll assign a code to your computer browser also. Any device that you use regularly can have a code saved and associated with that device’s browser to make it more convenient. Something you would not want to do on a computer or device that other people have access to.
When you get an authentication code, either by code generator or by SMS text, the code is usually only valid for a short period of time, and you must enter the code in that time frame or request another one. Also, if you are logged out of an account or do not use that browser to access that account for an extended period of time, you will be prompted to get a new authentication code.
Here’s how Facebook’s Two-Factor Authentication works:
Option 1: SMS Text
First you will need to go to Account Settings and then Security in Facebook.
Next, make sure “Login Approval” is set to ON
If you have associated your mobile phone number with your account you will be asked to verify it. You will be sent a text with a six-digit authentication code and you will enter that code to verify your phone number.
Once this is set up, each time you log in to Facebook on a new browser/device OR Facebook requires you to re-authenticate your device, you will automatically receive a text to your phone with a six-digit authentication code.
Option 2: Code Generator
In addition to SMS Text, The Facebook mobile app has a built-in code generator.
By selecting the main menu to the left in your Facebook app and scrolling down to the bottom you will find the “Code Generator”. Once activated it will generate a new code every 30 seconds.
This is good for accessing your account on other devices or computers.
Option 3: Pre-Generated Codes
Facebook provides you with a limited list of Pre-Generated codes. If you are ever in a situation where you don’t have your phone, or know you will not have access to it. You can write down these codes and use them.
To find these codes, go to Account Settings and Security in Facebook.
You will see the option as “Login Approval Codes”.
If you ever need a new list you can request one there.
If you are interested in Two-Factor Authentication for any of your other online accounts, I’ve included a list of ones that offer the feature with links to instructions on how to activate them and how they work.
- How to Turn on Two-Factor Authentication for Facebook (securitywatch.pcmag.com)
- How to Enable Two-Factor Authentication on All Your Accounts (gizmodo.com)