You can now log in to Facebook using a special USB or NFC key

facebook usb nfc security key

Facebook just can’t stop announcing things this week. With Facebook Stories revealed for its mobile app, and tweaks also heading to its Facebook Trending system, the company is now turning to a largely forgotten area — privacy and security.

This week, FB announced a number of new privacy tools that will be heading to user profiles on 28 January.

The revamped Privacy Basics page will allow users to better understand privacy management of their account. It takes the form of an interactive FAQ, and will be available in 44 languages. Overall, there are 32 guides focusing on a number of privacy-minded topics.

But that’s not all Facebook’s including in its latest update.

USB and NFC for logins

The social network also announced a polished two-factor authentication login system, that will allow users to log into their Facebook accounts using a compatible USB stick or NFC tag. Facebook’s calling the new feature Security Key.

Facebook’s Security Key login system allows users to gain access to their account without the need for a one-time PIN from an authentication app

“Starting today, you can register a physical security key to your account so that the next time you log in after enabling login approvals, you’ll simply tap a small hardware device that goes in the USB drive of your computer,” explains Brad Hill, a security engineer at the social network.

“Security keys can be purchased through companies like Yubico, and the keys support the open Universal 2nd Factor (U2F) standard hosted by the FIDO Alliance.”

Two-factor authentication systems are slowly becoming commonplace in online account management. Instead of simply using your password to login, the site will ask users for an additional one-time code from an app. Facebook though also allows users to use a USB key.

An NFC key can also be used, but there are a few caveats.

“At this time we don’t support security key logins for our mobile Facebook app, but if you have an NFC-capable Android device with the latest version of Chrome and Google Authenticator installed, you can use an NFC-capable key to log in from our mobile website,” it adds.

That means users can only login to FB’s mobile website using an Android device. While that’s a hindrance to some, it’s a step in the right direction.

Facebook is the first major platform giving NFC a chance, and in many ways, it could be a more convenient method to log into services on your phone or tablet in the future.

Andy Walker, former editor


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