Facebook Launches Secured Connection, Social Authentication Features

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Computer users who have learned not to submit important info online unless a "lock" icon is visible - and who've also come to fear captchas - should soon have a much-improved opinion of Facebook.  Today, the social network announced secured connection and social authentication security features to address both these issues.

Let's start with the secured connection option.  Alex Rice, a security engineer, wrote on the Facebook Blog, "Facebook currently uses HTTPS whenever your password is sent to us, but today we're expanding its usage in order to help keep your data even more secure. . . .  [W]e'll provide you with the ability to experience Facebook entirely over HTTPS."

That should make the wireless experience in particular much safer.  Just be aware, Rice warned, "Encrypted pages take longer to load, so you may notice that Facebook is slower using HTTPS.  In addition, some Facebook features, including many third-party applications, are not currently supported in HTTPS."

As for the social authentication element, it operates on the principle that most folks will find it easier to recognize their friends than a bunch of squiggly, squished non-words.  So when Facebook detects suspicious account activity, users will now be asked to name a pal rather than complete a captcha.

The use of multiple pictures should help tackle the problem of individuals tagging themselves as gummi bears and other random objects.  Meanwhile, the "skip person" option could also be useful if you've acquired too many friends you've never met in person or haven't seen since elementary school.

Look for these security upgrades to roll out over the next few weeks.

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