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

Lock your Gmail account as if it were Fort Knox with the 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 personal information in your Google account – balances of bank accounts, 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, consider the Google Advanced Protection Program. The Google program makes it almost impossible for anyone else to access your Gmail, Google Drive, Google Photos & other Google services. Best of all, thanks to a recent update, adding what Google claims is the strongest level of consumer safety to your Google account has simply made a bit easier .

You have a reason to worry about your private information – companies have reported 5,183 data breaches in 2019 alone . And although you may not be as striking as a target at Jeff Bezos, it is not particularly reassuring that even the CEO of one of the world's largest technology companies is not insensitive to having his phone hacked . Sometimes even the attempt to make your passwords as strong as possible is not enough.

Whether you are ready to add maximum security to your Google account, or you are just curious about how the highly-protected Google program 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.


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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 do not 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 you have other options, including a new app available for Android and iOS that seamlessly turns your mobile device into a security key . [19659006] One of the common denominators among most data breaches is that remote attacks are carried out via the internet. That is why physical security keys, like those of Google users or those can now use Microsoft customers to unlock their Windows machines are such 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 are signed in to the Google Advanced Protection Program, the Google services are more difficult to access for you, as are most third-party apps that share your YouTube, Gmail, Google Drive or other from 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

Google apps will still work, as well as a number of 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, in addition to these obstacles, you lose both your security key and your backup key, the process to regain 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.

Keychains cost you, but there are no monthly fees.

The first thing to do is set up two security keys – although you only need one at a time to access your account, Google wants to make sure that you has a backup in case you lose it. You can use your smartphone or tablet as keys as long as they have Bluetooth, but Google also sells the Titan Security Key Bundle in the Google Store for $ 50 if you prefer to use something different than devices that you currently own.

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The Titan Security Key is supplied in both a USB and a Bluetooth version. Sarah Tew / CNET

Titan security keys are executed on firmware developed by Google and thanks to a recent hardware update, the Titan USB key now fits on USB-C ports like those on all modern MacBooks including the recent 16-inch MacBook Pro 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.

Although Google recommends having one Bluetooth key as your primary and one USB key as a backup, you can use the program both set as Bluetooth keys, including the use of mobile devices, if you want. If you have an iPhone or iPad, download the Google Smart Lock app to turn your phone or tablet into a security key. However, Android users do not have to use a separate app to activate their built-in security key, they only have to register it.

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<h2>  Register your keys and log in to the program </h2>
<p>  Once you have figured out the key situation, go back 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. </p>
<p>  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. </p>
<h2>  It also works with G-Suite accounts </h2>
<p>  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. For the Advanced Protection Program, Google began supporting G-Suite customers last summer, but you may need to contact your supervisor or system administrator to enable the option. </p>
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Google's advanced security 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

G-Suite compatibility is not the only new enhancement 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, since 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 will be watching your digital security, it might just as well be Google. [19659006] Originally published last year.


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