Tag Archives: Computer security

Google wants your phone number — why?

Google recently changed its privacy policy combing more than sixty policies into one. The updated policy also allows Google to more directly target ads to your specifications. The change only impacts users who log into one of the Google services, but it still sparked criticism. So, imagine the surprise of some users when Google began asking for phone numbers. Several companies ask for your mobile phone number for security purposes, but it’s the timing that may have some users thinking twice and asking what’s next?

Google tells users that a mobile phone number is one of the easiest and most reliable ways to make sure your account is safe. It also allows you access to your account if you forget your password or someone gets unauthorized action.

Google says it will send you a verification code so you can get in your account if you can’t get into the services. You’ll also be notified via text when your password is changed.

Last May, I wrote about Facebook’s request for your phone number.   Their “Login Approvals” process had the same intent of increasing security, but it worked a bit differently. With the Facebook system, if you opt in you get a code sent to your cell phone when you log in from an unregistered computer.

Several years ago, banks added security questions, pictures, and PINS. Which raises the question — why your cell phone. If a question or picture is enough for a bank, why isn’t enough for Google, Facebook, or other companies that request your cell phone?

Companies who request your phone number say that’s more secure than your email or a security question because  you physically carry your phone. Email accounts are constantly being hacked, and remember most banks already have your phone number. It’s usually required when you open an account. If your credit card shows unauthorized activity you’ll get a phone call not an email alerting you.

It seems we continually give up more personal information. Perhaps it’s just another sign of the times. Hackers keep finding ways around security and as a result we have to give up more information to try to protect our personal identities. We can only hope they hold our information in as secure a place as possible as security breaches are common.

Ultimately, it’s your decision if you give a company your cell phone. It’s not required with Google or Facebook. It all depends on how much personal information you want to give up and whether you feel that’s less important than the so-called added security.

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Facebook & Twitter security

Lately, it seems friend after friend is being hacked on Twitter.  There are a number of reasons this could be happening, and the letters “https” may have something to do with it. I posted directions to make your Twitter and Facebook accounts more secure in March, but think it’s worth re-visiting.

Creating a secure connection on Twitter
Go to the top right of your Twitter page, and click on the menu under your name.  Click on settings.  Scroll to the bottom of settings and you’ll see a box next to “Always use HTTPS.” Make sure it’s checked so you can begin browsing securely.

Twitter has also announced it’s automatically turning this feature on for a small number of users.

Creating a secure connection on Facebook
Go into Account Settings on the right hand side of your Facebook page under Account. Once you’re into Account Settings, click on Account Security.  Make sure secure browsing has a check mark next to it. This will allow you to browse securely. You’ll notice the change at the top of your browser in the address bar. It should say https. The s stands for secure.

Facebook says it may take longer for a site to load when you’re using a secure connection because the information is encrypted. Plus, some third party applications do not support https. Facebook is working to resolve those issues.

Click here to read more about this change on Facebook.

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