Coincidence or not, Facebook today announced two new security measures -- wider use of HTTPS and the introduction of "social authentication" -- less than 24 hours after the Facebook page of company founder Mark Zuckerberg was defaced by a hacker.
A blog post by Facebook's Alex Rice ties the security announcement to Friday being "Data Privacy Day," but the press and bloggers are having a high time connecting the news and Zuckerberg's victimization, whether or not there is actually any connection.
The first new security measure involves expanding the use of HTTPS -- Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure -- beyond password exchanges.
Rice writes: "Starting today we'll provide you with the ability to experience Facebook entirely over HTTPS. You should consider enabling this option if you frequently use Facebook from public Internet access points found at coffee shops, airports, libraries or schools. The option will exist as part of our advanced security features, which you can find in the 'Account Security' section of the Account Settings page."
The second measure is a captcha-like authentication mechanism that instead of relying on illegible printed words employs photographs of a Facebook user's own friends.
Rice continues: "Instead of showing you a traditional captcha on Facebook, one of the ways we may help verify your identity is through social authentication. We will show you a few pictures of your friends and ask you to name the person in those photos. Hackers halfway across the world might know your password, but they don't know who your friends are."
Meanwhile, Facebook has remained officially mum regarding yesterday's apparent hacking incident that saw someone insert a message onto Zuckerberg's Facebook fan page, which has attracted 2.8 million Facebook users. While it was removed relatively quickly, some 1,800 of those users managed to "like" the page and more than 400 left comments beforehand. The message read:
"Let the hacking begin: If facebook needs money, instead of going to the banks, why doesn't Facebook let its users invest in Facebook in a social way? Why not transform Facebook into a 'social business' the way Nobel Price [sic] winner Muhammad Yunus described it? #hackercup2011"
As of this writing, Zuckerberg's page remains disabled.
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