Google has just announced a feature that makes accessing your account exceedingly difficult for hackers—and no picnic for you either.
To log into a Google account that has the new Advanced Protection feature enabled, you will have to have a special USB stick plugged into your computer, or a Bluetooth device paired with your phone. The devices sell for about $20 and act as security keys, which “have long been considered the most secure version of 2-Step Verification, and the best protection against phishing,” Google said in a blog post.
If a hacker knows your password and tries to access your Google account, they won’t be able to get in without the physical security key. The thing is, neither will you. And if you lose the key, the process for regaining access to your account will involve several extra steps, “including additional reviews and requests for more details about why you’ve lost access to your account,” according to Google.
For now, Advanced Protection will also remove your ability to use third-party apps with your Google account, such as Gmail plugins that filter or clean your inbox. That’s because there have been a rash of fraudulent plugins in the past that have tricked users into turning over full access to their accounts.
Although these restrictions may seem excessively onerous, this is what it takes to secure data in 2017. Of all the accounts you own, your email is probably the most sensitive. It’s the one account that you likely have tied to all of your other accounts, and resetting the passwords to those accounts probably requires nothing more than access to your email.
The new feature will be most useful for people who regularly send and receive confidential emails, like journalists and people who work in the public sector. But we’re currently living in a climate of constant hacking, and anyone who wants to protect their information may want to take a closer look.