Gmail Enhances Security with Passkeys, Eliminating the Need for 2FA

Gmail serves nearly 2 billion users and processes over 300 billion emails daily. It remains a prime target for hackers seeking access to sensitive data stored within Google accounts. Realizing the vital need for robust security measures, Google recently expanded its Advanced Protection Program (APP) to include passkeys as an alternative to hardware security keys for two-factor authentication (2FA). Google wants to enhance Gmail security eliminating the need for 2FA hardware keys.

Historically, Google has reserved APP for high-risk users such as politicians, activists, and journalists, offering them the highest level of protection against cultivated cyber threats like phishing and malware. Until now, enrollment in the program needed the purchase and use of hardware security keys, which served as the second factor in the authentication process. However, Google’s recent announcement highlights a substantial shift by allowing users to opt for passkeys instead.

This new update aims to democratize access to advanced security features. Moreover, it eliminates the financial barrier linked with acquiring hardware keys. Passkeys leverage existing personal devices such as smartphones—for authentication, using methods like facial scans, fingerprints, or PINs. This method improves security and simplifies the login process, as users no longer need to remember or type passwords.

What Is A Passkey?

Passkeys are an alternative to authenticating yourself to a service. They offer a streamlined and secure method of authentication compared to traditional passwords. Designed to be resistant to phishing attempts, they offer robust protection against fraudulent emails and other online threats. Passkeys leverage biometric features like facial scans, fingerprints, or a PIN, using devices such as smartphones that users already possess. Unlike passwords, passkeys mitigate the need for memorization and typing during login, improving user convenience. Moreover, they are tied to the user’s device, typically a smartphone, ensuring high security by avoiding storage on vulnerable servers susceptible to hacking or phishing attacks.

Google Offers Free Top-Tier Gmail Security Upgrade with Passkeys

Shuvo Chatterjee, Google’s Advanced Protection Program product lead, highlighted that passkeys offer strong protection against phishing attacks, a common threat to users’ credentials and susceptible information. By hooking authentication directly to a user’s phone, passkeys eliminate the risk of credential theft that often accompanies traditional password-based logins.

Enrolling in the APP with a passkey is quite easy. Google users can visit the APP start page and select the passkey option during enrollment. Passkeys can serve as a standalone authentication method, so Google requires users to set up a recovery method—such as a phone number or email address—to recover accounts if necessary. This dual-layered method guarantees both security and accessibility, striking a balance between strict security measures and user convenience.

The introduction of passkeys underscores Google’s ongoing commitment to innovation in cybersecurity, acclimating to growing threats and user needs. By making state-of-the-art security features more accessible and user-friendly, the search giant aims to protect a broader base of Gmail users from high-profile individuals to everyday consumers—against rapidly growing cyber-attacks.

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Laiba Mohsin

Laiba is an Electrical Engineer seeking a placement to gain hands-on experience in relevant areas of telecommunications. She likes to write about tech and gadgets. She loves shopping, traveling and exploring things.

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