Identity, Network Security

Facebook to mandate high security program for politicians, journalists

Today’s columnist, Jason Needham of Cloudentity says that all attacks may not have the magnitude of the Cambridge Analytica scandal where Facebook’s API exposed the raw data of some 87 million users, but he cautions security teams to pay attention to API security in the months and years ahead. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Facebook will roll out a new requirement that highly targeted groups, including professions like journalists, political candidates and human rights groups, use its heightened security program “Facebook Protect,” the company announced Thursday.

The protection package includes streamlined two-factor authentication with increased customer support and increased monitoring for hackers. 

“Two-factor authentication — particularly by using third-party authentication apps —significantly improves the security of your online accounts. Right now, anyone can enroll in two-factor authentication and everyone should,” wrote Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of security policy in a blog post connected to the announcement. 

“However, this important feature has been historically underutilized across the internet — even by people that are more likely to be targeted by malicious hackers, such as journalists, activists, political candidates and others.”

Facebook is not mandating any action of anyone unless they are contacted to enroll. The social media outlet does not anticipate the mandate will have a large impact on participation on the site.

Gleicher wrote that in a limited test of mandating Facebook Protect while offering simplified two-factor enrollment and increased customer support, Facebook found that  over 90% of users chose to enroll. 

“Over the next several months, we’re going to carefully expand this requirement globally. We’re encouraged by our early findings and will continue to improve Facebook Protect over time,” he wrote.

Facebook Protect was first implemented during the 2018 U.S. presidential campaign. Since then 1.5 million accounts have joined the service, including 950 thousand that have already enabled two-factor authentication. 

Facebook anticipates offering Protect in over 50 countries by the end of the year.

Joe Uchill

Joe is a senior reporter at SC Weekly, focused on policy issues. He previously covered cybersecurity for Axios, The Hill and the Christian Science Monitor’s short-lived Passcode website.

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