Monday, 10 December, 2018

A physical key is the secret to Google employees' online security

Google’s 89,000+ employees have had zero phishing incidents since switching to hardware security keys in 2017 Google Proves That Hardware Security Keys Are The Way To Go
Troy Mann | 25 July, 2018, 20:40

However, in a phishing attempt, the phishing site that looks like the site to which you meant to log in would not be recognized by the security key so it wouldn't send it that response.

A spokesperson for the company said: "We have had no reported or confirmed account takeovers since implementing security keys at Google". The key works without the need for any special software drivers.

A U2F security key is much more secure against phishing compared to SMS 2FA or an authenticator app for multiple reasons. The key allows the user to login by inserting the USB device and pushing a button on the device, which means that without the physical key, a malicious actor can not successfully login as the employee. The attackers would simply request the SMS fallback from the service if they can gain the 2FA code that way and don't have your U2F security key.

Security Keys are low-priced USB-based devices that offer an alternative approach to two-factor authentication (2FA), which requires the user to log in to a Web site using something they know (the password) and something they have (e.g., a mobile device).

Researchers say protecting your account with a password often isn't enough, and tech firms have developed new methods, often needing a mobile phone or a hardware key, such as the Security Key system used by Google.

If you're on a budget, using two-factor authentication is still recommended. If the Security Key is present, the user will be able to log into any website that is attached to the device.

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A Google spokesperson said Security Keys now form the basis of all account access at Google.

U2F is an emerging open source authentication standard, and as such only a handful of high-profile sites now support it, including Dropbox, Facebook, Github (and of course Google's various services).

U2F support is already baked into a number of security products including the popular LastPass, Dashlane and Keepass password managers.

Google has revealed its way of cutting out phishing attacks completely. They work with Chrome, Firefox, and Opera browsers. However, the report noted that U2F is not enabled by default in Firefox. Microsoft will update Edge later this year for support and there is no word on if Apple will support it.

The advanced protection features include an option to require a physical USB security key to connect to a desktop computer before each log-in as a way to verify a user's identity. Apple hasn't announced any plans on whether or not its standard Safari browser will support U2F.

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