Facebook Security Checkup Tool Keeps Tabs on Security Settings

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Facebook today released Security Checkup, an online tool that alerts users when unfamiliar devices try to access an account.

Large technology companies have long led their users to security and privacy features. Some security technologies are transparent and are on by default, while others require a little prodding of users to turn them on.

Even in an age of enhanced scrutiny of exactly what privacy is and means, and periodic revelations of how much government surveillance is actually going on, consumers of online services—social media users in particular—still need a nudge to enhance and protect what they share online.

This is the environment driving companies such as Facebook and Google to differentiate via security on some fronts. Google early last month introduced its My Account feature, a privacy and security settings tool that walks users through their respective settings, provides some context on the protections available for their personal data, and affords them the opportunity to adjust in a simple way.

Facebook today followed suit with Security Checkup, a similar feature that gives users insight available security tools, information on what security and privacy features are already turn on, and which are still available.

Starting today, you can try a new tool called Security Checkup that makes it easier to find and use the security controls for your account.

Facebook said that starting in the next few weeks, users will see a reminder on their News Feeds about the availability of Security Checkup and a prompt taking them through three steps available in the tool. A web version is available immediately, while a mobile version is in development.

Facebook said Security Checkup can be used to determine which devices have logged into a user’s account and helps them log out of any that haven’t been used in a while or forgotten.

“So you’re only logged in to Facebook where you want to be,” said Facebook product manager Melissa Luu-Van.

Another likely more valuable feature is one called Login Alerts that informs a user via email if someone tries to access their account from an unfamiliar device or browser.

Security Checkup will also offer users tips for strong passwords, as well as avoiding using the same password for more than one online service. The Protect Your Password feature also offers users a chance to change their current password.

Facebook rolled out a similar Privacy Checkup tool last September that puts some control in users’ hands over which apps have access to Facebook data, what is shared with others and how to keep some data private.

“We saw significant interest in Privacy Checkup when it was launched last year. In fact, 90 percent of people who started Privacy Checkup completed the process, indicating a strong interest in having more control over that element of their account,” a Facebook representative told Threatpost. “We saw similar results of the initial testing of Security Checkup in May.”

Google took a similar approach with My Account, providing account users with easier access to security and privacy settings and context to help understand available options.

My Account gives users separate privacy and security checks. Privacy checks help users understand what data and content is available for others to see, while the security check includes account recovery information and devices that are logging in to an account.

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