To most of us this is the biggest nightmare. You want to log into your Facebook account and your password no longer works. In the worst of cases, someone managed to hack your account and changed your password. So what do you do? You can find the answer here, but these tips only work if you took precautions.
This article shows you what you can do NOW, while you can still log in, to secure your Facebook account and be able to recover it easily if you should ever lose access in the future.
1. Update Your Contact Information
A fairly easy way to recover your Facebook password is through alternative contact information, such as email addresses and mobile phone numbers. Obviously, this only works if you have access to the respective accounts. Thus you should make sure your contact information is up to date.
The most simply way to receive an overview of your current contact information is on your About / Info page. The direct link is facebook.com/your_username/info. In the bottom right you should see a box called Contact Info. If the information is incomplete or no longer up to date, click the Edit button to update it. Remove any email addresses or phone numbers that are out of date and add your current email addresses and mobile phone numbers.
When you attempt to edit your contact information, you will be re-directed to the respective section in your General Account Settings, which you can also access directly to update your data. You can update your email address/es here and your mobile phone number/s here.
To change your personal data, you need to enter your Facebook password. This ensures that no one can change your information if you forget to log yourself out. When you add an email address, a confirmation will be sent to your primary address. As a security precaution, this confirmation includes a link that allows you to cancel the request of adding a new email. In other words, having an email address on record means you are doubly secured, as you will be notified of changes and can prevent them, while at the same time being able to use that address to recover access to your account.
To add a mobile phone number, you will be instructed to send a text message to a Facebook number. A confirmation code will be returned to your mobile, which you need to enter on Facebook to verify that you own the respective phone number. Note that this only works with selected carriers and if your mobile carrier is supported, they will charge a fee for sending the text message.
Your personal contact information can later be used to recover your account, as explained in this article: How To Recover Your Facebook Account When You Can No Longer Log In
Facebook can be browsed using a secure connection. While this adds an extra layer of security, the secure connection (HTTPS) is not enabled by default. Go to General Account Settings, click the Security tab on the left-hand side, then click the Edit button to the right of Secure Browsing to access the respective option, or simply click here.
If you are wondering about the benefit of HTTPS and how it works, you may be interested in this article: What Is HTTPS & How To Enable Secure Connections Per Default.
3. Update Your Password
One of the biggest risks for getting your account hacked, is having a weak password or using the same password for all your online accounts. Moreover, you should regularly update your password.
Go to your General Account Settings and click the Edit button next to Password or click here. Enter your current password, followed by entering your new password twice. Click Save Changes and don’t forget to update your password manager or note down your password in a secure place, for example a non-digital address book.
Need help creating a strong password that you can remember? Have a look at these articles:
- How To Create A Good Password That You Will Not Forget
- Put Your Passwords Through The Crack Test With These Five Password Strength Tools
- 5 Free Password Generators For Nearly Unhackable Passwords
4. Enable Login Notifications
To be notified of logins to your Facebook account via email or text message, go to Security Settings as described above and click the respective option or click here.
5. Enable Login Approvals
To make it extra hard for someone else to falsely log into your Facebook account, you can enable login approvals. This means that every time anyone (even you) wants to log into your Facebook account from a device that was not authorized previously, they will be asked to enter a security code. This code will be sent to your primary mobile number via SMS. Note that this option only becomes fully active after one week. In the meantime it can easily be disabled without actually entering any security codes.
To enable Login Approvals, go to Security Settings as described above and click the respective option or click here. If your browser settings will prevent the option from working reliably, for example because it is set to clear cookies on logout, a respective error message will be displayed. Otherwise, you will see the notification shown below. After reading and understanding it, click on Set Up Now to proceed.
A security code will be sent to your primary mobile phone number. Enter the code to activate login approvals.
Note that you need to update your mobile settings, should you change your phone. Otherwise, you can always log in using a previously recognized computer.
In a subsequent step, you can also set up a Code Generator for your mobile, to create security codes directly on your smartphone. This option is available for Android only. For this you will need to install the app Facebook for Android. How to set up and use Code Generator will be subject of a different article.
It goes without saying that you should log out of your Facebook account after you are finished using it. You should also be very careful with Facebook apps and where you use Facebook to log into other services. Generally, if you follow some common sense practices, have a strong password that you never share and update frequently, your account should be safe.
What tips did you find most useful to secure your Facebook account? And did you ever need to recover it?