Google Sets Up ‘Advanced Protection’ for High-Risk Users

Andre Parker October 18, 2017
Google Sets Up ‘Advanced Protection’ for High-Risk Users

Google Inc is building a revamped log-in process that is claimed be even more secure for users who are at high risk of online attacks.

The new Advanced Protection feature focuses on combating phishing, accidental sharing, and fraudulent access to different accounts. Users like government officials, political activists, and journalists are considered to be benefited by the upgraded security.

Google users can now opt in to security options that will protect Gmail, Google Drive, and YouTube data from phishing attacks. It also includes an option that requires a physical USB security key in order to connect to a desktop computer before each log-in, serving as a way to verify a user’s identity. As for mobile log-ins, a Bluetooth wireless device will be required.

The tech giant touts the security feature as the most secure version of two-step verification that uses public key cryptography and digital signatures to confirm a person’s identity.

People who use the advanced protection will have their data walled off from access by any non-Google third-party application, like Apple iOS mail client and Microsoft Outlook.

Google claims that these features are good for users who don’t have any complaints about carrying security keys around, using the Chrome browser on desktop, and using Google apps since the key won’t be working with the iPhone’s mail, calendar, and contact apps.

Meanwhile, Google also made it more laborious and detailed to recover an account, fortifying the defense against fraudulent access by hackers who take advantage of some recovery options, pretending that they have been locked out of an account. This feature requires additional steps during the recovery process, which will include additional reviews and requests regarding the reasons why users lost their access to their accounts. In addition, the feature automatically limits full access to Gmail and Google Drive for specific apps.

Google has previously backed the use of security keys for what is known as two-factor authentication. In spite of this, advanced protection users will not have backup log-in method available when they lose their keys. They can only use the fuller account recovery process. Google has not yet disclosed the steps this process would entail.

This fortification of personal cyber security follows a US presidential election last year that was marred with controversies, including a disclosure of emails that belonged to the associates of Hillary Clinton, the then Democratic Party candidate. The emails were obtained through phishing schemes.

The hacks have been regarded as Russian-linked, mainly in an effort to broaden a cyber campaign that allegedly helped Donald Trump, who was the then Republican Party candidate, win the election. The hacks included an infiltration of John Podesta’s personal Gmail account. Podesta was Clinton’s campaign manager.

“If john Podesta had Advanced Protection last year, the world might be a very different place,” said Joseph Lorenzo Hall, the chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology.

He said that the features would increase the number of high-risk consumers who have strong protections against phishing attempts. However, he also acknowledged the possibility of compatibility issues among some who have already integrated custom security tools with their Google products.

Google made a web page that will usher users through the process of setting up advanced protection, and will include a guide about the purchase of USB and Bluetooth security keys on Amazon.

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Andre Parker


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