Friday, June 17, 2011

FACEBOOK Update: June 2011

Facebook’s Secure Browsing (HTTPS) Setting, It’s Problems And A Solution.

Facebook has finally added the ability to access the site via a HTTP Secure (HTTPS) connection, which should drastically increase security for users.

HTTPS provides a combination of the HTTP and SSL protocols, enabling encrypted communication between your computer and a web server. Without it you’re exposed to sniffing attacks on the network; for example, if you’re using a public Wi-Fi to access Facebook via plain HTTP, someone using the Firesheep add-on for Firefox can easily retrieve your data. HTTPS makes it a lot harder to do that.
To turn it on use the following steps:
  1. Click the Account menu in the top right corner and select Account Settings.
  2. Next to the Account Security heading click the Change link.
  3. Check the “Browse Facebook on a secure connection (https) whenever possible” checkbox under the Secure Browsing (https) heading.
  4. Click the Save button.

Now that you have this setting turned on be prepared for it to be turned off in certain situations. For instance the secure setting is not available in Facebook apps. Every time you enter one of the non secure areas you’ll be prompted that you are leaving the secure connection. I understand this but have gotten very annoyed by prompts.

But the bigger problem is that when you enter an http area after visiting a non https the secure connection is not restored automatically (at least in my experience). I’m sure that as time goes on Facebook apps will more over to https but until then this leaves a hole in the Facebook security system. A way to automatically leave a secure connection but no similar way back to it.

To work around these issues I’ve created my own solution. I’ve added a bookmark to my browser’s bookmark toolbar to go to Facebook under HTTPS. (To do this just add a bookmark for Now every time I finish using a non secure area of Facebook I use the bookmark to easily turn the secure connection back on. A simple solution to an annoying problem.

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