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Thursday, January 27, 2011
Facebook Enhances Security With HTTPS Support

Starting today Facebook provides users the ability to experience Facebook entirely over HTTPS. The company also announced a new way to authenticate users.

Until now, Facebook used HTTPS whenever a user sent password to the web site's servers but today Facebook is expanding its usage in order to help keep users' data even more secure. Facebook encourages users to cinsider enabling the HTTPS option if they frequently use Facebook from public Internet access points found at coffee shops, airports, libraries or schools. The option can be found under Facebook's "Account Security" section of the Account Settings page.

However enabling HTTPS makes encrypted pages load longer and also some Facebook features, including many third-party applications, are not currently supported. Facebook said that it would work to resolve these remaining issues.

The company also introduces the "Social authentication" feature. Many sites around the web use a type of challenge-response test called a captcha in their registration or purchasing flows. The purpose of this test is to verify that you are a human being and not a computer trying to game the system. Traditional captchas have a number of limitations including being (at times) incredibly hard to decipher and, since they are only meant to defend against attacks by computers, vulnerable to human hackers.

Instead of showing users a traditional captcha on Facebook, one of the ways to verify a user's identity is through social authentication. Facebook will show users a few pictures of their friends and ask them to name the person in those photos.

Facebook's new security measures come just a few days after the company's CEO Mark Zuckerberg discoverd that his own Facebook page was "hacked." Overnight, the cryptic message was posted to the Facebook fan page in the name of the 26-year old billionaire founder.

Facebook has said "a bug" was to blame for the odd posting.

The message led to speculation that the the site had been hacked or Mr Zuckerberg's account was compromised.

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