Many of us rely on police services for personal safety, but certain at-risk individuals go a step further and seek the help of professional bodyguards, where possible. Now, Google has launched the online equivalent of a bodyguard service called the Advanced Protection Program.
It takes special steps to ensure users’ security, above and beyond the usual mechanisms like password-based login for Google services. One of the most important is its requirement that Advanced Protection users leverage security keys like Yubico’s U2F USB devices for authentication; you need to actually plug a physical device into your computer and tap it in order to prove that you are who you say you are.
The program also limits access to Gmail and Google Drive through Google’s own apps, though the company is hoping to verify partners’ apps in the future. And it will take a more thorough approach to verifying user identities in the account recovery process, making additional requests for personally identifying information.
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. And a beta tester of the program, a journalist with the nonprofit Internews, testified to its utility, explaining that “[j]ournalists, human rights defenders, environment campaigners and civil society activists working on any number of sensitive issues can quickly find themselves targeted by well-resourced and highly capable adversaries,” so registering for Advanced Protection “could be seen as an essential preventative step” for these users.
It’s open to anyone, though, so long as they have a Google Account, Google’s Chrome browser, and, of course, a U2F security key.
Source: The Keyword