Science

Google beefs up security on Chrome

Google beefs up security on Chrome

Advanced Protection prevents this by automatically limiting full access to your Gmail and Drive to specific apps. In its blog post announcing this program, Google specifically named "political campaign managers", which harkens back to the breach of Hillary Clinton Presidential Campaign Chairman John Podesta's e-mails, which led to a release from WikiLeaks that may have played a significant role in the United States presidential election previous year.

To address this need, we're introducing the Advanced Protection Program.

In a blog post announcing the program, Google said it could prove useful for "campaign staffers preparing for an upcoming election, journalists who need to protect the confidentiality of their sources, or people in abusive relationships seeking safety", among other at-risk users.

Google is also improving its Safe Browsing feature in Chrome to better identify phishing attacks.

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The interesting thing about this is that it affects devices running Android Marshmallow 6.0 or higher. This results in the encryption key being rewritten to all-zeros, which makes it trivial to hack.

Those who opt for the advanced protection will have to use not only a password to sign in, but also a physical "security key".

Hall said the new features would increase the number of high-risk consumers with strong protections against phishing campaigns. USB security keys are considered a stronger tool for two-step verification than a texted or app-generated code, and provide reliable protection against phishing. One way attackers compromise accounts is to use the "I forgot my password" button to pretend they're the account holder and have been locked out. For now, it'll only be Google's apps, but other trusted apps will be added over time. For Advanced Protection users, extra steps will be put in place to prevent this during the the account recovery process-including additional reviews and requests for more details about why you've lost access to your account.

"If John Podesta had Advanced Protection previous year, the world might be a very different place", said Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology, who was briefed on the new features by Google. This starts with the way Google protects your Google account, and it continues all the way up to the Google Home router that you use at home. Chrome is now the only browser that supports U2F authentication, but other browsers should start supporting it soon, too. Google said it expects the feature to come "soon".