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New Gmail feature protects ‘high-risk’ users from being hacked

It uses two physical security keys for authentication.


Phillip Tracy


Posted on Oct 17, 2017   Updated on May 22, 2021, 2:05 pm CDT

It’s become increasingly important to secure your online accounts given the recent string of devastating cyberattacks. That’s particularly true for high-profile users who are more likely to be targeted by hackers. Fortunately, Google just released a more secure Gmail login system to keep attackers away from your personal information.

The Advanced Protection Program (APP) requires physical keys that connect via Bluetooth or USB and use public key cryptography and digital signatures to authenticate your identity. Think of this as a more secure, physical form of the two-factor authentication you’ve (hopefully) already been using.

You can’t set up an account for APP unless you have two keys, one that uses Bluetooth for your mobile devices and another USB version for your computer. You can buy them on Amazon for about $15 each. To protect against phishing scams, these security keys only work with the Chrome browser and can only access verified websites and apps. They will not work with an iPhone’s built-in Mail, Calendar, or Contacts apps, so Apple users will need to switch to Google’s dedicated apps if they want to use the feature.

There are a few other things to consider when deciding whether to enroll in Gmail APP. First, you’ll need to have the keys on you every time you want to get into your account. If you lose a key, it could take days to regain access, not to mention the $15 you just lost. That said, APP is a not-so-subtle response to the hacks that occurred during the 2016 election and was made specifically for people “most at risk” of targeted attacks, like journalists, business leaders, and political campaign teams. Though anyone with a regular Gmail account can sign up, the program won’t be for everyone.

If you choose to enroll, you can do so today at this link. For what it’s worth, Google promises it will continue to upgrade its APP security measures to guard against new attacks.

H/T Motherboard

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*First Published: Oct 17, 2017, 4:33 pm CDT