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Google Now Lets You Use Android Smartphones as Physical Security Keys for 2-Step Verification

Google Now Lets You Use Android Smartphones as Physical Security Keys for 2-Step Verification

Android smartphones running Android 7.0 or a later version can be used as a physical security key.

  • Android smartphones can now be used as physical security keys
  • Users have to enable 2-step verification for this feature to work
  • The connected device can be a Mac, Windows PC or Chromebook

In a bid to further boost the security of users' Google account and linked services, Google has rolled out a new version of 2 step verification (2SV) or 2-factor authentication (2FA), which turns any Android smartphone into a physical security key. The new 2 step verification format does not send a text message with a verification code. Instead, it sends a prompt on a connected smartphone to make sure it is the legitimate user trying to log into a Google service from a different device. And to be honest, this implementation is more secure and hassle-free.

In an official blog post, Google has revealed that all smartphones running Android 7.0 or a higher version of Google's mobile OS can now be used as a physical security key to verify and authenticate access to Google services like Gmail and Google Drive linked to their account, both personal and work. The feature is also available for users who are part of the company's Advanced Protection program.

In order to activate the improved 2 step verification process, you need to run the latest version of Chrome browser on the secondary device (powered by Chrome OS, macOS X or Windows 10) and follow these steps:

•    Connect your mobile with a Bluetooth-supported PC
•    Once the Bluetooth pairing is done, open myaccount.google.com/security Activate 2-step verification if not already enabled
•    In the 2 step verification settings, scroll down and tap “Set up an alternative second step”
•    Once there, tap on the “Add security key” button
•    Select your linked Android smartphone from the list of available devices

Once the feature has been enabled, you will receive a prompt on your Android smartphone before logging in to a Google account from another device. Thanks to the new implementation, users will just have to tap the ‘Yes' button when the 2SV prompt arrives, rather than opening a message and entering a verification password to grant access.

Pixel 3 duo users can also grant access by just pressing the volume down button, instead of tapping on the ‘Yes' button on receiving the 2-step verification prompt. The Titan M security chip inside the Pixel 3 will reportedly make sure that the press on the volume down button is legitimate. However, the enhanced 2-step verification process is only for Google's own services, and not third-party ones. However, the company is planning to add support for third-party services in the near future.


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