Google to upgrade user security after high-profile political hacks

Google search engine. — DayakDaily.com file pic. // Photo: Pixabay

KUCHING: Google is preparing to upgrade its security tools for online accounts to better insulate users from cyberattacks and politically motivated hacks, according to two people familiar with the company’s plan, reported Bloomberg yesterday.

Beginning next month, The Alphabet Inc. company will offer the Advanced Protection Programme that places a collection of features onto accounts such as email, including a new block on third-party applications from accessing data.

The programme would effectively replace the need to use two-factor authentication to protect accounts with a pair of physical security keys. The product will target corporate executives, politicians and others with heightened security concerns.

The move comes in the wake of the hacking of Gmail messages last year belonging to John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign chairman, along with Democratic National Committee databases.

Google released software in 2014 for a USB Security Key to improve existing security measures, like two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication involves using a second code or password, for example, to log onto email.


When plugged into computers, the key lets users create more robust security measures for accounts on Gmail and other Google sites. The new service will continue to require a physical USB key in addition to a second physical key for greater protection.

The new service will block all third-party programmes from accessing a user’s emails or files stored on Google Drive, said the two sources, who asked not to be identified because the product is not yet public. The programme will be updated with new features to protect user data on an ongoing basis.

A Google spokesman declined to comment.