Why you might not want to use Facebook, Twitter or Google to log into apps

Instead of creating a new username and password every time you download a new password-protected app, are you ever prompted to simply log in using your Facebook, Twitter or Google account instead? While this is certainly tempting (no one wants to scratch their head and come up with yet another unique login and password), you could be putting your personal information at risk.

Popular Smart Phone Apps Of 2016
Getty Images | Carl Court

So what’s the big deal? By giving these sites access to your social media accounts, you’re also giving them access to a large amount of data on you. If you bother to read the privacy policy notice that often pops up before you blindly hand over your login information, you’d notice that you’re giving it permission to access things like the pages you like, your photos and your contact list. And all that access to information leaves you vulnerable. For example, if you’ve liked your bank’s page on Facebook, a hacker might be able to guess that’s your bank, making them one step closer to your checking account, explains Reader’s Digest.

Another potential problem is that if someone figures out your password to a particular social media site, suddenly they also have access to all the other apps to which you’ve connected it, making you more vulnerable to a security breach. Instead, Neil J. Rubenking of PC Magazine recommends using a password manager to give you a strong, unique password.

Keepass Password Manager
Flickr | xmodulo

Not all tech experts are convinced that the practice of logging into apps through your social media accounts is necessarily dangerous, though. In fact, Fahmida Y. Rashid, also writing for PC Magazine, thoroughly disagrees with her colleague. In fact, she thinks that logging into a third-party site using your Google account, for example, actually makes your information more secure. Her reasoning? Companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter are familiar with security risks and are in a better position to keep your information safe, whereas other, newer companies may not yet have the necessary technological safeguards in place to prevent a data breach. She specifically praises Google because it allows users to enable a two-factor authentication, making it more secure.

While the jury may be out on whether or not the convenient shortcut is safe, there are other ways to secure your information online beyond password protection. According to Forbes, some people are ditching passwords altogether, and instead utilizing services like WiActs, which allow you to access sites through other means, like your fingerprint. Similarly Microsoft is working on a biometric ring called Token that would eliminate the need for passwords.

Passwords or not, be safe out there!