Increasing Facebook Security with an SMS Password
You’re probably really into Facebook and you definitely don’t want to lose access to your account, but if you’re set up like most people, the only security you have stopping others from accessing your account is your password. But what happens if someone guesses that password, installs a key logger, watches you slowly type your password in or sees you write it down?
If they can log in, you can be shut out and you won’t know that’s happened until you go to check your facebook status and can’t log in. Try to recover your password and it gets worse: the hacker has entered a new email address for your account and they get the password reset messages, not you. Yikes.
Fortunately, I’m going to show you a really neat feature Facebook makes available where it sends a text message to your cellphone with a constantly-changing numeric code that has to be entered as part of the login process. Why is that helpful? Because without also having your cellphone available, people can’t log in to your account even if they’ve stolen or guessed your password. The result? Better account security.
STEP ONE: HOOK A MOBILE NUMBER UP TO YOUR ACCOUNT
To get started, log in to your Facebook account then go to Account –> Account Settings and clicking on “Mobile” on the left side. You’ll see this:
Click on “Add a Phone”, the green button in the middle of the window, and it’ll ask what carrier or mobile service provider you have:
I use AT&T for my iPhone, so that’s what I specify here. Click on “Next” and it’ll tell me to switch to my smartphone and send a text message to Facebook with the letter “F”.
You can see here that I’ve already entered the confirmation code into the window above. On my iPhone the back and forth text messages look like this:
Once I’ve entered that code back on the Facebook settings window, I click “Next” and I’m halfway, the mobile number is hooked up and associated with my account.
STEP TWO: ENABLE SMS TWO-STEP AUTHENTICATION
Now that the mobile device is tied in to your Facebook account, the other step is to set up the verification capability. That’s a bit more tricky, but take it step by step and we’ll get to the end together!
On the left side of the Account Settings area, click on “Security”, and you’ll see the many security settings you can adjust or tweak for your Facebook account:
Facebook calls this two-step SMS verification “Login Approvals”. You can see it above, it’s the third entry. Click on “Edit” adjacent and you’ll see the options:
That’s what we want. Click on the checkbox adjacent to “Require me to enter a security code sent to my phone” and it’ll warn you that this is a big step and ask if you really want to do this:
That’s what you want. Click on “Set Up Now” and continue…
Again, I’m kind of taking two steps at once. The above window shows up, then here’s what shows up on my iPhone:
If you look at the previous screen capture, you’ll see that I’ve already entered 836947 into the window. A click on “Submit Code” and it’ll congratulate me!
See? You thought I was kidding about the congratulations part, didn’t you?
Now that’s all set up, let’s log out of Facebook and try to log in again to see what’s changed. After entering my account and password pair, as usual, I now see this:
That’s very cool because meanwhile, on my cellphone, here’s what’s showed up:
I enter the numeric code (which changes each time you use it, btw) and I’ll be asked to name the system I’m logging in from for my own recordkeeping:
Finally, a click on “Okay” and I’m logged in as usual to Facebook. Done.
Dave Taylor writes the popular Ask Dave Taylor tech support blog and has been fiddling with computers and gadgets for more years than he’s willing to admit. You have questions? He’s happy to hear from you on his site or you can join his fan club at facebook.com/askdavetaylor
Editor Note: Intel has sponsored this video series.