Facebook said on Tuesday it would start allowing users to set up physical security keys as a way to verify their identity before logging into the social network’s mobile app, beginning next year.
The company currently offers an option to require a hardware security key to connect to a desktop computer before each log-in. Users could purchase a hardware key from retailers, and register it with Facebook, the company said.
Facebook’s plan to introduce authentication via physical keys for more users confirms an earlier report by news website Axios. The world’s largest social network also said it also plans to expand Facebook Protect — its security programme for high-profile accounts including election candidates — to more types of accounts globally next year. The rollout of new security services follows a July hack of peer social network Twitter which compromised many celebrity accounts, including those of President-elect Joe Bidenand Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk.
Currently available in the United States, Facebook Protect offers a way for politicians, government agencies, and election staff to set up additional security provisions, such as two-factor authentication and real-time monitoring for potential hacking threats. Facebook said that it will now be available to users like journalists and human rights activists who are at a higher risk of being targeted by sophisticated hackers, Facebook added.
Facebook says that users who want to set up a physical security for their account will first have to enable two-factor authentication via text message or a third-party authentication app. Users can then add a Universal 2nd Factor (U2F) compatible security key (such as a special USB device with U2F support) as an authentication method, and use it when logging into their accounts.