Facebook Deepens Security With Single-Use Passwords

Facebook boosted its web security profile this week by giving users disposable, single-use passwords to use on public computers.

"We're launching one-time passwords to make it safer to use public computers in places like hotels, cafes or airports," wrote Facebook product manager Jake Brill in a blog post.

Essentially, Facebook will beam a one-time password to a user's mobile phone. That temporary code is good for 20 minutes. The new feature, which Facebook started rolling out this week, is designed to add a new layer of security when using Facebook on public computers or in other environments that may not have the tightest security.

"If you have any concerns about security of the computer you're using while accessing Facebook, we can text you a one-time password to use instead of your regular password," Brill wrote.

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Facebook's foray into single-use passwords follows similar moves made by other cloud computing and web companies to add another level of password protection. For example, Google added two-step verification to its Google Apps cloud offerings last month that send a second password to users' mobile devices as an added line of defense.

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The social media titan's single-use password plan tackles the thorny issue of security and passwords. Passwords have become increasingly more predictable and easy to decipher, enabling malicious hacks into users' accounts.

Facebook's password update also comes the same week as a survey conducted by Internet security company Webroot found that users are becoming increasingly more reckless with their passwords.

According to the survey, which queried 2,500 people, four out of 10 respondents shared passwords with at least one person in the past year; nearly four in 10 people use the same password for multiple Web sites; half of users said they never use special characters in passwords; and two in 10 use a significant date, like a birth date, or a pet's name as a password. Those factors, Webroot concluded, make it easier for hackers to guess passwords and hijack user accounts.

The Webroot survey found that among Facebook users, 47 percent use their Facebook password elsewhere online and 62 percent never change their passwords.

Facebook said that users can text "otp" to 32665 from a mobile phone and they will immediately be sent a password that will work once and last 20 minutes.

Along with unveiling single-use passwords, Facebook also launched the ability for Facebook users to see their recent log in activity in the Account Security section of the Account Settings Page. This lets users see when and from where their account has been accessed while also letting users remotely close sessions and log out of their accounts. Another new feature will regularly prompt users to update their security information.