The new security feature issues a warning when Facebook believes that a user's devices or private accounts have been compromised by "an attacker suspected of working on behalf of a nation-state."

Facebook data center. Photo credit: Tom Raftery.
Truth In Media

Facebook announced late last week that it has enabled a new security feature that notifies a user when it appears that his or her devices or private accounts are under a government-sponsored cyberattack.

The social network’s Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos published a Facebook note from the company’s verified security page last Friday that explains how the new feature works. “Starting today, we will notify you if we believe your account has been targeted or compromised by an attacker suspected of working on behalf of a nation-state,” he said.

When Facebook detects that a user might be under a state-sponsored cyberattack, it will show that user a notification, seen below.

FacebookNotification

While we have always taken steps to secure accounts that we believe to have been compromised, we decided to show this additional warning if we have a strong suspicion that an attack could be government-sponsored. We do this because these types of attacks tend to be more advanced and dangerous than others, and we strongly encourage affected people to take the actions necessary to secure all of their online accounts,” wrote Stamos.

[RELATED: Facebook Is Tracking You Even When You Aren’t Logged In]

The notification recommends that users turn on the setting “Login Approvals” to secure their Facebook accounts against such attacks. TechCrunch’s Sarah Perez says that when Login Approvals is activated, “users are alerted when their Facebook account is accessed from a new device or a new web browser.” She added, “When this occurs, Facebook sends a security code to your phone, so only you – as the phone’s owner – will be able to enter in the code and proceed to log in.

Stamos noted that Facebook will not explain in these instances why it believes that the user is under an attack in an effort to “protect the integrity of our methods and processes” but that it will only issue the notifications when the social network’s software detects evidence that “strongly supports our conclusion.”

Barry Donegan

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