Facebook Uses HTTPS Encrypted Connections to Improve Security

Would you be more apt to use and trust Facebook if they implemented the same secure connections that your online banking website uses?

Facebook, during last week, rolled out a new feature that allows users to connect using a secure HTTPS connection. An HTTPS connection may be familiar to some of you if you notice the 'https' prefix in your banking website's URL. HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure which is basically the SSL/TLS (transport layer security) protocol that provides encrypted communication and security identification of a web server. This type of technology will essentially help prevent eavesdroppers and cyber attacks on your secure connection to whatever you are accessing over the Internet. Banking and ecommerce (shopping) websites commonly use this technology to gain trust from their customers in assuring them that their data transmitted over the Internet to their servers is safe.

Facebook, over the past few years of its existence, has drawn criticism in the form of security and privacy from many users and even those who have still not adopted use of the largest social network in the world. If you consider the vast amount of Facebook users, possibly hundreds of millions, who may access their Facebook account in public places or computers that they do not own, implementing HTTPS secure connections could be a really big deal.

The Facebook account belonging to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's founder, was hacked into using an API error. Since the hack, over two weeks ago, a patch has been applied to ensure the incident would not happen. Shortly after, we witness the rollout of the HTTPS secure connection feature for Facebook, which could aid in preventing hacking such as in the case of Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook account. Could it be just a coincidence that the HTTPS feature was released after Zuckerberg's account hacking incident and just before the International Day of Awareness that promotes data privacy? We seriously doubt it.

After all of the steps that Facebook has taken in the past to address security and privacy concerns, we can honestly say that we think they are headed in the right direction when it comes to protecting their users' interest. Online security is a serious issue that plays a toll on the minds of those who have been victims of data theft, identity theft, and even financial extortion in the past.

facebook-https-secure-connection-settings
Figure 1. Facebook Account Settings to change Account Security to use secure browsing (https).

The new HTTPS security connection feature is not enabled by default. In order for Facebook users to implement the new HTTPS security encryption connection, they must turn it on under the 'Account Settings' menu. The 'Settings' tab must be selected to change the 'Account Security' setting to 'setup secure browsing (https) and login alerts' as shown in Figure 1 above.

Will you start using the new HTTPS secure browsing option in Facebook? Do you think this will make Facebook users who are concerned about security feel more secure?

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