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Facebook unveils new security features

Login security announcement doesn't appear to be related to company meeting Facebook called over privacy

May 13, 2010 06:33 PM ET

Computerworld - Facebook took the wraps off Thursday on two new security features aimed at protecting users from phishers and other online scammers.

"At Facebook, we're constantly working on new ways to protect you from scams and help you keep your account and information secure," wrote Lev Popov, a Facebook software engineer, in a blog post late on Thursday afternoon.

"Today, we're announcing some new tools and systems designed to keep the bad guys out and keep you abreast of suspicious activity so you can quickly take action to correct it," Popov wrote.

One of the new features, now available to all Facebook users, is designed to allow users to approve the devices they use to log in and then be notified whenever their account is accessed from a device they haven't approved, Popov wrote. (Users can access the new feature under the Account Settings page.)

For instance, if a user lists her work desktop, her laptop and her iPhone, and then someone tries to log onto her page from a different machine, security will be triggered.

The user will be notified that another system has been used to try to access her account. They'll also receive information on how to reset their password and secure the account.

Facebook also is taking steps to block suspicious logons.

"When we see that someone is trying to access your account from an unusual device, we'll ask the person to answer an additional verification question to prove his or her identity as the real account owner," Popov wrote.

"For example, we might ask the person to enter a birth date, identify a friend in a photo or answer a security question if you've previously provided one. These questions are designed to be easy for you, and hard for a bad guy, and we've already seen some great results," he wrote.

The security announcement doesn't appear to be related to the company meeting that Facebook called, also on Thursday, to discuss its recent privacy issues.

In an e-mail to Computerworld this morning, a Facebook spokesman confirmed that the company will hold a meeting to discuss privacy concerns raised by individuals and lawmakers, but he would not say whether executives are looking to make changes to the site's highly contentious privacy policies.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at Twitter @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed Gaudin RSS. Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

Read more about Security in Computerworld's Security Topic Center.



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