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Facebook Protect is expanding to more countries, including India; provide additional protection for high-risk accounts

Facebook Protect, a program that provides additional protection and security for high-risk user accounts, is now being rolled out in more countries, including India. The program was first tested in the United States in 2018 and widely expanded in the 2020 US election. The company plans to roll it out in nearly 50 countries by the end of the year.

“Facebook Protect is a security program for people most at risk of being heavily targeted by malicious hackers or other hostile threats. These include human rights defenders, journalists and activists, and are often at the center of public debate. They hold governments and businesses accountable, ”Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook security manager, explained at a press briefing.

As part of the program, users who belong to these groups will soon begin to see a prompt from Facebook asking them to turn on the “Facebook Protect” option. The program is designed to protect their accounts from cyber attacks and also requires users to enable two-factor authentication (2FA) for their accounts. This requires an OTP via SMS or a third-party authenticator app to access the account. Facebook Protect also monitors their accounts for additional security.

But Facebook Protect isn’t just about activating 2FA for one account, which all users can really activate. “There are increased automated defenses that we activate on the backend to protect these accounts. These are additional detection mechanisms that our systems and teams perform. The accounts of this program are flagged in our systems so that if our investigators see, for example, repeated targeting of one of them, we would know that there could be a particular risk if they were compromised ”, Gleicher explained.

He revealed that so far, over 1.5 million risky accounts have activated the feature. Of these, nearly 950,000 accounts signed up for two-factor authentication for the first time using Facebook Protect.

Facebook says it has revamped the program based on its teachings, especially those based on the US election. It should be noted that Facebook Protect mandates 2FA for risky accounts for journalists, human rights defenders and activists. The company said it also wants to strike a balance and make sure these users aren’t blocked on their accounts, which will make it easier to activate 2FA.

One of the reasons Facebook insists on 2FA is because it remains an underused feature on the internet, despite the known benefits in protecting a user’s account. He revealed that only around 4% of monthly active Facebook users globally have adopted 2FA through November 2021, which is in fact consistent with what other companies have reported.

Facebook is hoping that with the “Protect” feature, at least the accounts of people at risk, such as journalists or activists, will put their additional security measures in place. When a user receives a notification asking them to activate Facebook Protect, they also receive a deadline.

If they do not activate 2FA within this time, their account will be blocked. The only way to regain access to the account is to activate 2FA and accept Facebook Protect once this notification appears for a user. To reiterate, Facebook doesn’t force this on all users, only those at high risk.

The social media network will also improve customer support for those who have Facebook Protect turned on. Facebook says early results have been encouraging and that “simplifying sign-up flows, improving customer support, and requiring 2FA have taken adoption rates to over 90% in one month for these groups. “.

The social media network will also extend the functionality to more countries. “We first extended the mandate in countries where we know we have the necessary resources in place to develop smoothly and also in countries where we could witness critical civic moments like upcoming elections in the near future. future, for example, the Philippines and Turkey, “said Facebook’s security chief.

He also hopes to extend it to countries like Myanmar and Ethiopia. “We plan to expand into these regions early next year, building on everything we’ve learned from previous waves to minimize risk and destruction or protect critical voices around the world,” he said. -he adds.

For users who are journalists or activists, but do not receive the prompt, Facebook will have a process in place to allow them to register. “We have a journalist registration program, for example, and a number of publications are working proactively with us to ensure that their journalists are highlighted on our platform so that we can provide that additional protection. “, did he declare.

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