Google to Provide Security Keys to High-Risk Users

Published · Oct 14, 2021

Google will give security keys to 10,000 high-risk users. They issued a warning to these users. The company indicated that state-backed hackers are targeting them. It alluded to the Russian hackers implicated in many noteworthy incidents.

Google’s Threat Analysis Group (TAG) warned more than 14,000 Gmail users that a state-sponsored phishing campaign had been targeting them. Such cyber attacks can cause millions in damages.

The perpetrators are the Russia-based group “Fancy Bear” responsible for numerous high-profile hacks over the past few years. The company announced the security key program as part of an effort to combat rising threats.

Google clarified that the warning doesn’t imply there’s been a compromise. In fact, Google blocked most attacks before even notifying users. TAG’s director Shane Huntley points out that such attacks are commonly launched against activists, journalists, and government officials.

Google says that the roll-out of the security keys will continue through the rest of 2021. It also wants to encourage users to enroll in its Advanced Protection Program (APP), which works to safeguard high visibility users with sensitive information desirable to hackers.

Mounting Defences

Security keys are USB devices that serve as a second factor for logging into accounts. They provide extra security because hackers can’t access them remotely. They’re often used in conjunction with security programs like password managers.

Google isn’t the first company to pursue a program like this. Earlier in 2021, AWS pledged free security USBs to some of its clients. This is part of a wider program across the Western tech industry to tighten cybersecurity.

Google and AWS were among the companies that attended a White House meeting on cybersecurity.

It makes sense that the two organizations are pursuing similar programs.

Tech companies at large are attempting to improve cyber security in association with government agencies. Cloud providers in particular are making great strides. This is due to the cloud's utility, ubiquity, and vulnerability as a target.

The moves by Google and AWS indicate that the promises made at the White House meeting are beginning to bear fruit.

Garan van Rensburg
Garan van Rensburg

Garan is a writer interested in how tech reshapes the environment, and how the environment reshapes tech. You'll usually find him inoculating against future shock and arguing with bots.