There's An Annoying Problem with Facebook HTTPS
Article by George Norman
On 08 Feb 2011
Facebook users who take their privacy seriously were glad to find out that the popular social networking site rolled out the option to turn on HTTPS . The problem with a regular connection (HTTP) is that people with malicious intent could snoop in on what you send over the web. To ensure your data is safely sent over the web, you must go for an encrypted connection (HTTPS).

Facebook announced back in January that it is slowly rolling out the “Browse Facebook on a secure connection (HTTPS) whenever possible” option that users can access from the “Account Security” section on the Account Settings page. Facebook Security Engineer Alex Rice explained at the time that it is advisable to enable HTTPS and browse on an encrypted connection especially if you connect to your Facebook account via a public network.

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Here comes the annoying part. Know how the option says “Browse Facebook on a secure connection (HTTPS) whenever possible”? That implies that sometimes you will not be able to browse on HTTPS and you will have to contend with the regular, snoopable HTTP. According to The H Security, you are asked if you would like to switch back to HTTP when you click on a link to a Facebook app. Makes sense that you would be asked to switch if HTTPS is not supported in this case.

What doesn’t make sense is that if you click continue, the “Browse Facebook on a secure connection (HTTPS) whenever possible” option is disabled.

“Facebook disables the https option in your account settings in the background. There is no indication given to the user that this switch is not a temporary change for a single app, but that Facebook is completely switching off encryption altogether,” says Chris von Eitzen in an article titled “Facebook’s crude https workaround.”

The bottom line is that if you want to stick with HTTPS, you have to refrain from using an app. If you do use an app, then you have to turn HTTPS back on. Hopefully Facebook will address this nuisance soon.



Tags: Facebook, HTTPS, Security
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
You can follow him on Google+, Facebook or Twitter

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