Facebook Allows Two-Factor Authentication Phone Number Search

07 March, 2019, 12:23 | Author: Sharon Yates
  • Security researchers have expressed concern over using security as a way of further weakening privacy as phone numbers can be hijacked for impersonation

Facebook came under heavy fire after admitting that they were using users phone number to directed targeted ads.

The good news is that while you can't opt out, you can control who can look up your profile using your phone number.

Worse still is the fact that this option is set to "everyone" by default. Despite claiming to use phone number only for two-factor authentication (2FA) process to secure users' account, anyone can use a phone number as the granted key to search Facebook users' profile.

Throughout 2018, Facebook kept messaging users to turn on two-factor authentication by using their phone number. Facebook's 2FA has been under the privacy scanner since a year ago when a number of people received random SMS notifications after giving their phone number for 2FA. "Facebook shares phone numbers with advertisers", Burge wrote in a series of tweets.

As TechCrunch reported this weekend, the social network has a vast trove of phone numbers in its database, some of which are associated with internet users who aren't even on Facebook.

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If users haven't already become used to Facebook and its privacy scandals, here is another one. And, asked why it was set to "everyone" by default, Facebook said the feature makes it easier to find people you know but aren't yet friends with. Researchers from Princeton University and Northeastern University in the U.S. past year examined how Facebook uses personally identifiable information supplied by users. So it becomes clear that the number will show to everyone if Facebook's default setting is not changed, and the user can not hide the phone number absolutely. To do that, users will need to click on Settings Privacy. After adding the number Burge was unable to hide it, and it can be searched.

Facebook previous year amended its solicitation to submit a phone number with a link explaining that the number would be used for other purposes. Thus you can do multi-factor authentication with Facebook: remove the phone-based 2FA and reactivate it using an authenticator app.

Sadly, the same can't be said about Facebook. Facebook should never have made users personal phone numbers that were offered for security capable of being computationally searched by everyone in the first place.

Alex Stamos, former chief security officer and now an adjunct professor at Stanford University, also called out the practice in a tweet. Two-factor or 2FA authentication in itself is a great way to ensure someone trying to hack you needs to clear several hurdles before doing so, but Facebook seems to have an ulterior motive for pushing you to better protect your account.


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