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Home / Tips and Tricks / Lock your Gmail account as if it were Fort Knox: Google Advanced Protection Program

Lock your Gmail account as if it were Fort Knox: Google Advanced Protection Program



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Google's Titan Security Key, which works with the Google Advanced Protection Program, is available in the Google Store in a set of two for $ 50.


Sarah Tew / CNET

You store a lot of sensitive information in your Google account – bank balances, email addresses and phone numbers, photos of your face, the faces of your friends, your family. If you want to protect that sensitive data with the highest level of security you can get, you can view Google's advanced security program. The Google program makes it practical for anyone but yourself to access your Gmail, Google Drive, Google Photos or other Google services. Google claims it offers the strongest consumer safety available.

You are entitled to concern: data leaks have become so commonplace that CNET now continues. Last month, hackers landed thousands of dollars of Facebook ads on unsuspecting users' credit cards. Meanwhile, one of the largest players in the virtual private network space, NordVPN, has reluctantly admitted to a huge breach after a security investigator whistled on Twitter.

Whether you are ready to add maximum guarantees to your Google account, or just want to know how the high-security program from Google works, here's everything you need to know about the Google Advanced Protection Program and how it works protect data.

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How the program protects your account

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The Google Titan USB-C security key is intended as a backup in case your Bluetooth key is ever lost or no longer works.


Google

The Google Advanced Protection Program protects your personal information by requiring a physical security key, similar to the type of dongle you use to start a car with keyless ignition. You don't have to connect it to your phone, laptop or desktop, but you must keep it close when you access your Google account, such as on a key ring or in your pocket.

The Google Store sells a set of Titan security keys for $ 50, but there are other options.

One of the common denominators among most data breaches is that attacks are carried out remotely, via the internet. That is why physical security keys, like those of Google users or that Microsoft customers can now use to unlock their Windows machines, are such an effective defense against online hackers. Even if a scammer has stolen your username and password, they still cannot get into your account without that physical key.

The same applies to anyone who can steal your password – curious colleagues, a suspicious spouse. Without that key, your Google account is practically impenetrable.

However, there are some considerations

Once you have signed up for the Google Advanced Protection Program, the Google services are slightly more difficult for you to access, as are most third-party apps that use your YouTube, Gmail, Google Drive or other parts of your Google account to work.

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YubiKey also creates security keys such as those that are compatible with the Google Advanced Protection Program.


Josh Miller / CNET

All Google apps will still work, as well as a few non-Google apps such as Apple's Mail, Calendar and Contact apps for iOS, as well as Mozilla's Thunderbird email client. However, travel tracking apps, or apps that collect your online purchases by scanning your Gmail for coupons, will usually no longer work. All Google services that are accessed through a mobile or desktop browser now only work with Chrome or Firefox.

If you lose both your security key and your backup key in addition to these obstacles, the process of regaining access to your Google account takes a few days, as Google goes through additional steps to verify your identity before it is unlocked. That's because hackers sometimes contact companies such as Google that occur if you hope to reset your password and hijack your account.

There are one-time costs to set it up, but no monthly costs

The first thing you do You only have to buy two physical security keys. Although you only need one at a time to access your account, Google wants to make sure you have a backup in case you lose it. Google sells the Titan Security Key Bundle in the Google Store for $ 50.

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The Titan Security Key is supplied in both a USB and a Bluetooth version.


Sarah Tew / CNET

The two included keys run on firmware developed by Google and thanks to a recent hardware update, the Titan USB key now fits on USB-C ports such as those on all modern MacBooks including the new 16-inch MacBook pro unveiled November 13 as well as many Windows machines and Chromebooks . It also comes with adapters, so you can also use it with USB-A and Micro-USB ports.

The Titan set will work fine for most people, but if you insist on choosing your own key set, either to save money or because you prefer a different manufacturer, look for a key ring that works with FIDO Universal 2nd Factor (U2F), also known as FIDO2. YubiKey is a popular alternative. They sell compatible keys that each cost between $ 20 and $ 70, which you can order directly through the YubiKey website.

Compatible keys are also available from various online stores for around $ 7 to more than $ 40. Certain Android phones are also equipped with a compatible Bluetooth security key. Google recommends having one Bluetooth fob as the primary key and one USB key as the backup.

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Sarah Tew / CNET

Register your keys and log in to the program

After finding out the key situation, return to your Google account to register the keys and log in to the program. Note that from now on you must use Chrome or Firefox – you do not have access to your Gmail, Google Docs or other Google services with Safari, Internet Explorer or other browsers.

While you & # 39; In your account settings again, it might be a good idea to also set up some additional ways that Google can verify that it is you. This will both improve the security of your account and make it easier to get back in if you lose both security keys.

It also works with G-Suite accounts

Many schools, universities, and employers use the Google G-Suite software package for email addresses, cloud storage, and other features and benefits for students, instructors, and employees. Google started supporting G-Suite customers last summer, but you may need to contact your supervisor or system administrator to enable the option.

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Google & # 39; s Advanced Protection Program was specific to Gmail accounts. Now it helps protect people when they use Google Chrome. Angela Lang / CNET

Google's advanced security program continues to evolve

Compatibility with G-Suite is not the only new improvement of the advanced security program, since Google has recently expanded the scope of the program to include protecting people against viruses on Chrome . This is a welcome feature, because Chrome already has a pretty bad reputation when it comes to protecting your privacy .

Although it may seem ironic to trust your security to Google after the company was recently caught transferring personal information from users to advertisers and collecting health information about millions of Americans without their permission The flip side of that coin is that Google probably knows you better than any other technology company, so if someone is going to monitor your digital security, it might just as well be Google. [19659006] Originally published earlier this month.


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