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How can I secure my Facebook account?

secure my Facebook account
Double-lock: you can use your phone to secure your Facebook account

Some of your Facebook posts can be embarrassing enough, but can you imagine the devastation that somebody else hacking into your account could cause? Apart from the age-old recommendation of choosing a secure password, you can use a second form of authentication on Facebook, just to make sure the person logging in is actually you.

What is Two Factor Authentication?

Two Factor Authentication introduces a second check to the login process. In the past, this was often knowledge that only you should know, but as this was often a pet’s name or your mother’s maiden name, which could easily be discovered. These days, the second check usually involves texting you a code or entering a regularly changing code from an app that’s on your phone. This means that even if somebody knows your password, they still won’t be able to log in unless they have the relevant code from your mobile device.

How do I secure my Facebook account with Two Factor Authentication?

Sign into your account and then into “Settings” (via the cog symbol at the top) and then “Security and login”. Part way down you should see a section named “Two-factor authentication”:

Click on the “Edit” button to the right and you should be presented with this screen…

Click on “Get Started” and you’ll be presented with a choice as to which method to use…

Option 1 – Text Message

Once you’ve selected this, a code will be sent to your mobile phone, assuming one is set-up on your account. Otherwise, you’ll be prompted for your mobile number. Type the code you’re snt into the box (as below).

Option 2 – Authentication App

You’ll need to have an authentication app installed on your phone – popular ones are Google Authenticator and Authy. I prefer the latter as it syncs your accounts across devices, which is also a god send when you change phones.

Within your app, you need to add a new account and, when prompted, scan the QR code that Facebook shows. Once you’ve done that, simply type in the code that your authenticator app shows you.

Which method should I use?

It’s down to personal choice. There are advantages and disadvantages to both – the SMS method, for example, will cause you headaches if you ever change phone numbers. However, you will get texts every time somebody successfully gets to that stage of login (i.e. they’ve successfully used your password), which mean you know your account has been compromised. This doesn’t happen with the app option.

Personally, I use the app as texts can be unreliable, particularly if you’re travelling.

What to do once you’re set-up

Once you’ve added one or both methods (yes, you can use both in case the other fails), you’ll see this screen:

I’d recommend you now click into that bottom option, “Recovery codes”. This will give you a number of codes that you can save (and ideally print off) if ever your preferred method of Two Factor doesn’t work (you’ve lost your phone, for example). You can use one of these codes to gain access to your account.

Now you can carry on sharing cute cat videos safe in the knowledge your posts are your own.

About the author

David Artiss

Works for Automattic Inc., the company behind WordPress.com and Tumblr. Tech geek, international speaker and occasional PC Pro podcaster. Lover of Lego and video games.

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