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

Google account sign-in page

As part of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, Google has announced numerous security-related updates including revamped phishing protection. This drastic account lockdown feature is designed for people at risk of sophisticated targeted attacks, and while it will make you safer, it will also make your life more hard. It will protect Gmail, Google Drive and YouTube data with a variety of measures including a physical authentication key. Possible candidates for using the Advanced Protection Program could be "campaign staffers preparing for an upcoming election, journalists who need to protect the confidentiality of their sources, or people in abusive relationships seeking safety", it says.

If a user does type their Google password into a suspected phishing site, Google's new security system will ensure that your account and information isn't compromised.

Google took the unusual step of creating a program for this small subset of users due to their higher risk online and because they've been previously overlooked for additionally protections, Dario Salice, Google's Advanced Protection Product Manager, said in a blog post Tuesday.

Physical Security Key: To guard against phishing, a physical Security Key will be required every time you log into a device.

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To provide the strongest defense against phishing, Advanced Protection goes beyond traditional 2-Step Verification.

"An attacker who doesn't have your security key is automatically blocked, even if they have your password", the statement said. Given it's all too easy to inadvertently grant a malicious app access to data, those in the program will have it all locked down.

These advanced security are great for those who need them, but the move could also be a self-serving one for Google, which will gain the ability to deflect criticism of its more standard security features by suggesting that anyone who suffers breaches perhaps should have opted into Advanced Protection.

Hall said the new features would grow the amount of high-risk consumers with strong protections against phishing campaigns, but that they would potentially create compatibility issues among some who already integrate custom security tools with their Gmail account. Google notes "extra steps", like additional reviews and request for more details, in place during the account recovery process. Google hopes that other browsers will include such support in due course.

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