Facebook rolls out physical keys to guard against hacking mobile accounts

Facebook rolls out physical keys to guard against hacking mobile accounts
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Facebook on Thursday announced that iOS and Android mobile device users can now utilize physical security keys to verify their accounts and guard against hackers.

The new product is meant to add an extra layer of protection against malicious hacking efforts, particularly those focused on the accounts of high profile people or groups, such as politicians, journalists and human rights defenders.

The keys, which can clip on to a keychain and plug into a mobile device, are intended to serve as part of a two-factor authentication that would make it much more difficult for hackers to gain access to accounts. Users will be asked for a password and then a second form of verification, such as a texted code or the physical key, when logging into their accounts.

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Facebook warned of the need for extra levels of security for high profile accounts as many hackers seek to spread misinformation or scam users, which the company said was one of the most common security problems on the platform.

Keys have been available for use on desktop computers since 2017.

The keys for mobile devices, which will be manufactured by outside companies, are part of the “Facebook Protect” program, first announced by CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergBudowsky: How Biden can defeat COVID-19 for good White House looks to cool battle with Facebook Facebook to dole out billion to creators into 2022 MORE in 2019. The program, initially intended to help political campaigns secure their accounts against hacking efforts, will be made available to other groups around the world later this year, the company said.

This week's security upgrade comes on the heels of U.S. intelligence agencies releasing a declassified version of a report on foreign interference in the 2020 U.S. elections that found both Russia and Iran had sought to influence the elections, and that Russia had again employed social media platforms to attempt to sway the vote in favor of former President TrumpDonald TrumpNew Capitol Police chief to take over Friday Overnight Health Care: Biden officials says no change to masking guidance right now | Missouri Supreme Court rules in favor of Medicaid expansion | Mississippi's attorney general asks Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade Michael Wolff and the art of monetizing gossip MORE.

Russian agents used Facebook and other social media platforms in 2016 to spread misinformation and disinformation, with around 126 million people in the U.S. seeing posts from the Russian Internet Research Agency ahead of the election.