Google announces Advanced Protection Program for accounts 'most at risk' for attack

Google unveils new security protections in Chrome

At the start, the program focuses on three core defenses. The devices sell for about $20 and act as security keys, which "have always been considered the most secure version of 2-Step Verification, and the best protection against phishing", Google said in a blog post. Google isn't, understandably, detailing exactly what those will comprise at this point, though does say that, for those who lose both account access and both security keys, it could "take a few days" to restore access with the new, more stringent system.

The advanced protection program uses hardware security keys on sale from Amazon: one uses Bluetooth, NFC, and cable to authenticate a user's phone, tablet, and computer; and the second is a USB device for backups.

Google has made it easier to integrate third-party services with Google accounts, but sometimes a user may allow a malicious app to access some sensitive emails or documents. It can also automatically limit full access to Gmail and Google Drive for certain apps.

Given the scrutiny Google and other major tech companies are facing over election interference, it makes sense to roll out a feature like this now (although Google says it's in honor of Cybersecurity Awareness Month).

Fraudulent Account Access: Another common way hackers try to access accounts is by impersonating the account holder and pretending they have been locked out. But he noted that they may create compatibility issues among some who already integrate custom security tools with their Google products.

The rollout of a suite of new email security services by Google follows a US presidential election a year ago that was shaped in part by the disclosure of emails by anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks belonging to associates of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton that were obtained through phishing schemes.

"Journalists, human rights defenders, environment campaigners and civil society activists working on any number of sensitive issues can quickly find themselves targeted by well-resourced and highly capable adversaries", said Andrew Ford Lyons, a technologist at Internews, an nonprofit organization that focuses on global media issues.

"For those whose work may cause their profile to become more visible, setting this up could be seen as an essential preventative step", he added.

The Advanced Protection Program provides a series of extra barriers for users.

He also brought up the data privacy disconnect that exists between the United States and other parts of the world. Finally, the account recovery process is beefed up with Advanced Protection Program.

For now, the program is only available for consumer Google accounts, but Google said anyone with a Google account can enroll into the program.

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