Google’s Advanced Protection Program puts the key to Google services right in your pocket — literally.
You probably keep a lot of sensitive information in your Google account — bank account numbers and balances, email addresses for everyone in your life, photos of your face, your friends’ faces, your family. If you want the highest level of security you can get for your all that important data, you’ll want to check out the Google Advanced Protection Program. Google’s program makes it nearly impossible for anyone but you to access your Gmail, Google Drive, Google Photos or any other Google services you use. Google claims it offers the strongest consumer-grade security available.
You have a right to be concerned — data breaches have become so commonplace that CNET now keeps a running tally. Just last month, hackers rang up thousands of dollars’ worth of Facebook ads on unsuspecting users’ credit cards. Meanwhile, one of the biggest players in the virtual private network space, NordVPN, reluctantly admitted to a massive breach after a security researcher blew the whistle on Twitter.
Whether you’re ready to add maximum safeguards to your Google account now, or you’re just curious how a high-security system works, here’s everything you need to know about the Google Advanced Protection Program and how it can protect your data.
How the program protects your account
The Google Advanced Protection Program protects your personal information by requiring a physical security key, similar to the kind of dongle you use to start a car with keyless ignition. You don’t need to plug it into your phone, laptop or desktop, but you do need to keep it nearby whenever you access your Google account, like on a keychain or in your pocket.
The Google Store sells a set of Titan security keys for $50, but there are other options as well.
One of the common denominators among most data breaches is that attacks are carried out remotely, over the Internet. That’s why physical security keys, much like the ones Google user or those that Microsoft customers can now use to unlock their Windows machines, are such an effective defense against online hackers. Even if a scammer did steal your username and password, they still couldn’t get into your account without that physical key.
Same goes for anyone who might surreptitiously steal your password — nosy coworkers, a suspicious spouse. Without that key, your Google account is practically impenetrable.