Google has announced a new program today which aims to protect personal Google accounts with a heretofore-unseen level of high security from a major tech company.
Google’s Advanced Protection Program is a high-security protection program which aims to guard the accounts of “those most at risk of targeted attacks—like journalists, business leaders, and political campaign teams.” Despite the presumed audience, it appears that anyone with a Google account can sign up for the optional program.
Physical Keys Required
While extra security always seems like a good idea, the steps required to join this program won’t make it practical for most people. Google requires users of the program to have physical Bluetooth and USB security keys. The company includes Amazon links to purchase a Bluetooth key and a USB key — curiously, the Bluetooth key is not currently available for sale on Amazon, so users without such a key would have to find one elsewhere. The chosen USB key costs $18.
The Advanced Protection Program requires users to sign in with a password and one of those physical security keys — Bluetooth or USB, depending on whether a mobile device or computer is being used to access a Google account.
Google’s program hopes to provide a tough defense against phishing schemes, especially those which have fooled high-risk targets in the past. The program also limits third-party apps from accessing trusted data, and it requires extra steps to verify a user’s identity.
“Even for people with very limited technology chops, this is a way for them to have an extremely protected profile,” Joseph Lorenzo Hall told Wired. Hall is chief technologist for the Center for Democracy and Technology.
Though this program may be a bit extreme for most users, the least you can do to increase your Google account security is to turn on two-step verification, if you haven’t already. (This qualifies for any account you have which offers two-step verification, not just Google.) For more tips, check out our article Five Simple Ways To Improve Your Cybersecurity.