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Google prepares to launch new security program using physical keys

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Google is working to improve its security features in order to protect its users from hacking and other potential security threats.

Two sources familiar with the company said that Google was preparing to launch a new service called Advanced Protection Program, Bloomberg reported. The new program, which is expected to go live next month, would add a number of new features to various Google programs, such as Gmail, with the goal of preventing third-parties from gaining unauthorized access to private accounts and personal data.

Currently, Google offers two-factor authentication for its services usually in the form of an alternative email address or cell phone number. For most users, that form of protection is sufficient and would remain in place. However, for those who seek extra security measures, such as politicians or leaders of large corporations, Google is offering something a bit different. The company will offer those users two physical security keys which will allow them greater security options.

The first key will reportedly take the form of a USB drive which contains security software designed to protect a user’s various Google accounts. This software would require the user to have both the USB drive and the second security key in order to obtain access to their accounts.

Taken together, these two keys will block third-parties from accessing a user’s Gmail, Google Drive or similar accounts. The company declined to comment on this product as it is not yet public, but Bloomberg’s sources said that these programs would be updated on a regular basis to ensure user data remains secure.

While the security benefits of such a program are valuable, it does have a few setbacks that will likely make it impractical for the average user. The biggest is the simple fact that users must be willing to sacrifice convenience for security. In a world where far too many people use passwords such as “123456” or “qwerty,” it seems unlikely that too many people will take advantage of this program. Though, to be fair, the average user is not this program’s target audience.

The second major issue with physical security keys is that if a user loses them then they risk being locked out of their account which could be a problem for a politician or corporate leader. Then, of course, there is the danger of such keys being stolen by third-parties.

Google hasn’t spoken about how it will address the above flaws, but we expect to hear more when the program goes live.

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