Facebook Soon to Add Support for Hardware Security Keys

By Bill Toulas / December 23, 2020

Facebook, the world’s largest social media platform, acknowledges the need to do more to help its users stay protected and keep their accounts away from the hands of hackers. So it’s planning to add support for hardware security keys.

These are basically USB sticks that generate and hold a cryptographic element (private key), which is meant to help users authenticate and connect to their online accounts. Having set up your account using such a key, it is only possible to access it on computers with the physical device plugged in, so it’s the ultimate level of protection.

To be precise, Facebook has already been offering this security option, but only for high-profile politicians and high-ranking officials, government agents, election staff, and generally people that are more likely to be targeted by hackers and whose compromise would have severe repercussions. But the platform has now decided that this protection option shouldn’t be exclusive to some but available to all, as each person’s account could be invaluable to them, and every user is important to their social circle.

Facebook reports that over 70% of the users who were closely involved in the recent U.S. election have set up two-factor authentication, so people are realizing the importance of it, take advantage of the option, and possibly expect even stronger options. The social media giant hasn’t been specific with the arrival of the new option, so there are no dates, but it confirmed that it’s going to happen within 2021.

All that said, and before you go ahead and order a Yubikey, you should take note of the potential risk of using a hardware security key. Being a physical item, it can be lost or stolen, and in that case, you will be locked out of your accounts forever. Some platforms offer a backup login method to cover these cases, but most aren’t, as that would beat the purpose of using a security key in the first place. We don’t know if Facebook will offer a second way in, but it’s important to keep the risks in mind.

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