I was trying to join a Facebook fan page for my favorite TV show, Game of Thrones, and was disturbed to see a warning message that I needed to “switch to a regular connection” that wasn’t secure so I could proceed. Are they trying to hack my account? Should I proceed on Facebook?
You raise an interesting question because it highlights one of the weaknesses of Facebook’s new attention to security: it’s not a complete and full implementation of the secure “https” SSL encryption protocol.
Not sure what I’m talking about? You might want to start with this earlier tutorial I wrote on How to Ensure your Facebook Connection is Secure. Throw that switch and every time you connect, you’ll be using “https” and will be immune from people sniffing your account credentials on public networks.
Unless you try to become a fan of something and realize that the apps they’re using don’t support SSL and require you to bag the encryption and go back to an insecure connection instead. Yeah, not so good.
The error message you see looks like this:
Here’s the reality: most of the fan pages you’ll bump into on Facebook that have this problem are likely just because the developers or management company hired to tend the page aren’t using secure connections and don’t know that this is a problem. Your browser is doing the right thing and, indeed, Facebook is also doing the right thing by warning you before you switch from secure to insecure.
But is it malicious? Are they trying to hack your account? Highly doubtful.
On the other hand, I will admit that because I am very conscious of my account security and because I use public wifi networks quite a bit, I have not become fans of pages or groups that present this particular warning. Which is a drag because I too am a huge fan of Game of Thrones and would like to get the updates on Facebook too, but not at the price of compromising my secure connection.
Your milage will inevitably vary, of course, and I would imagine it’s quite unlikely that it’d cause any major problems. At least you know what’s going on now, however, so you can make your own smart decision.