Chances are, you’ve been asked the following when visiting a website: “Would you like to use your Facebook account to log in?”
Sharing your social media account credentials for instant access is convenient, but is using a Facebook login secure and safe? How can you be sure your privacy and data aren’t at risk?
There are both benefits and concerns to consider before sharing your Facebook credentials with an outside party. Learn what happens when you hand over your information and how to stay safe after the fact.
Is a Facebook Login Secure? What Happens When You Sign In
Think of your Facebook credentials as the key to your home. You own the only copy, so you feel relatively safe when you’re behind your locked front door at night. One day, you decide to start handing out copies of your house key to strangers. You hand out dozens all over town, but you never reveal your address to the recipients. Would you feel more or less safe behind your locked front door that night? Most likely, none of the people you handed over a house key to will be able to find your home. But it’s not impossible either.
When you use your Facebook credentials to start or sign into an account on a membership site, ecommerce site, or any other site that requires unique login information, you’re handing over a very important key. Even though the website can never see your password (Facebook hands over an approval token, not your unique password), you’ve still done something that makes you more vulnerable than you were before.
Most who take this risk are willing to do so because of the convenience factor that comes along with it. But before we say the convenience outweighs the concerns, we need to cover any potential negative situations that could arise from sharing Facebook credentials.
You’re shopping online for the perfect birthday gift for your sister. Once you find it, you start the check-out process. But you’re being asked to create an account. Who has time for another username and password combination? Instead of starting from scratch, you click the option to sign in with your Facebook account, follow the prompts, and complete your transaction without breaking a sweat.
Later that night, you begin to wonder if you made a mistake. Did you put your privacy at risk? Is your information safe? Here’s what you should know.
As previously mentioned, websites never gain direct access to your Facebook password. But they do receive your login email and will most likely gain access to some of your data. This could include your:
- Friend List
A website can also gain permission to post directly to your Facebook wall. The good news is that the data and permissions they obtain must be communicated before you agree to sharing your credentials.
A larger concern to be aware of is that should your Facebook account fall victim to a cybercrime, hackers would have access to any website you’ve logged into with the same information. With the average person being registered to 90 online accounts, it’s easy to imagine how quickly the damages could add up.
If these potential concerns are enough to steer you away from Facebook logins, there are usually other options.
It’s true that some websites only allow you to sign up for an account using your Facebook information. But because most websites realize how ostracizing this is, you’ll often have additional sign-in options, including the following.
- Email – If this option is available, all you need to do is enter your email address and a password to open an account. In this case, we recommend using an incredibly unique password and utilizing the assistance of a password manager.
- Google – Similar to signing in with Facebook, you can often sign in with your Google account to some websites. This is considered safer than using your Facebook credentials as it’s connected to less data, especially when combined with two-factor authentication (more on this later).
Advantages of Signing in with Facebook
Nontheless there are a few benefits you should be aware of. The main advantage of using your Facebook account to log into another site is the convenience it brings. Not having to remember another username and password can be a huge relief.
Believe it or not, there are also safety advantages to doing so. Should you decide to use your email and a password to sign into an account instead of Facebook, the website and associated company will have both pieces of data. Should your data be compromised in a breach, your password can quickly get into the wrong hands.
If you belong to the 59% of people who use the same password for every account, you’ve severely compromised your online privacy and safety. Signing in with your Facebook login credentials avoids this potential pitfall because your password is never stored in a company’s database.
Alternatives to Signing in with Facebook
While the above is all true and might sound mighty convenient to you there is one thing you should consider: A password manager does the same thing Facebook does without collecting all the data it can about you. A good password manager
- saves passwords as the user logs into websites
- automatically logs the user onto websites for which they have previously saved their password
- offers to generate and save new strong passwords when registering to websites
- makes sure all passwords are encrypted behind one master password which protects an unlimited number of accounts. Each single saved password is encrypted with the AES 256-bit standard and known only to the user
- allows users to import existing passwords in CSV format from other password managers, and from other applications (e.g. browser)
- automatically backs up passwords and synchronizes them across multiple devices
- allows users to access and manage all passwords from an online dashboard
3 Tips on How to Keep a Facebook Login Secure and Safe
Should you nonetheless decide that logging in with your Facebook credentials is the right choice for you, there are a few things you can do to make sure you’re as protected as possible.
- First, make sure you activate two-factor authentication on your devices. There are several different ways of going about this, but by installing an app or program on your laptop or smartphone, you’ll be required to enter a randomly generated authentication code provided to you each time you attempt to log into a website. This ensures that it’s you who is using your Facebook credentials and not a hacker.
- Also, do your research. Websites must disclose what information they’ll receive when you use your login credentials. If you’re not comfortable with anything in the fine print, it’s best to skip the login.
- Finally, avoid opening an account on every website you visit. There is often an option to proceed as a guest when shopping online and skip the account process all together. You should also periodically clean up your accounts, deleting ones you no longer use.
Questions about online safety? Connect with Avira to stay updated on ways to protect your privacy and data.