Let’s face it – Facebook is a major form of communication and doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. If you’re going to communicate and share information through one of the largest, most popular websites ever to exist, it’s important you take some time to arm yourself against the security threats that come with the territory.

First, let’s take a moment to understand what ‘secure browsing’ even means. When you log into Facebook, the username and password you send over the Internet to their servers is not encrypted by default. Without any type of encryption, it becomes possible to monitor the information going over the network as you’re signing in and easily attaining various types of login information for anyone else using the same network. It’s a practice commonly known as “packet sniffing” and is easiest to perform at places with public internet connections like coffee shops and airport terminals.

By encrypting your connection to Facebook (and any other site you log into) it makes it very nearly impossible to decipher your login credentials by watching the traffic passing through the network. Encrypting your connection will also keep any malicious network users from monitoring the data you send to and download from the popular networking site once you’ve logged in – as long as the applications you use inside Facebook support it, at least.

Facebook offers secure connections, but does not enable them by default, as the layer of protection increases the workload of their servers. By keeping the usage of their equipment low, they can reduce their expenses and keep their business model more attractive to investors. Remember, your security is not a priority, just the information about yourself that you provide them with. If an Internet service is free to use, you are probably the product.

In any case, it’s very easy to configure your Facebook account to sign in securely.

  • Simply sign in from a network you know to be safe, click on the “Account” button in the top right corner and click “Account Settings”.
  • Scroll down to the “Account Security” heading and open it up. Inside there will be an option titled “Secure Browsing (https)”.

Simply check the box and the next time you log into the site, it will automatically encrypt your connection and protect your data. Keep in mind though, this won’t stay active on pages that include applications that don’t support encryption. You can tell them apart by the address in the address bar. HTTPS is secure (encrypted from end to end), standard HTTP is not. Some browsers will display a green heading there with the address to let you know you’re secure. Be sure to look for these signs when you’re logging into any site that you are transferring personal information to: banks, social networking, investment sites, etc.