Google announces USB Security Key support for 2-Step Authentication

In recent years, it’s been made painfully clear that online security is a big deal. A really big deal. Between large companies being hacked, like Target and Dropbox, and SSL flaws being exploited, it’s more important than ever to keep your online self safe.

One easy way to greatly improve your online security, is to enable 2-Step Authentication for your accounts. Most online companies have this feature available, and it’s a good idea to enable it wherever you can.

How does 2-Step authentication work? Well, you login to your account as usual, with your username and password, but before it lets you in to your account, it sends you a text message with a verification code. You have to type in that code before you gain access to your account. That way, if someone hacks your password, they won’t be able to access your account, unless they also have access to your text messages.

Some people are reluctant to enable this feature, because it’s kind of a pain. And what do you do when that text doesn’t come through for no apparent reason? You can’t access your account without that pin.

Well, Google recently announced support for a FIDO Alliance compliant USB Security Key for 2-Step Authentication users. Once your key is setup and linked to your account, instead of asking for a pin, the Google site will ask you to insert your security key. Now, if your key is not on your person, you can still have it send you the text with the pin instead, so don’t worry about not having access to your account if your keys are missing.

Google has been furiously testing various devices internally, and even allowed me to test one (as seen in the featured image). According to Google, any device with this logo will work:

Screenshot 2014-10-21 at 09.30.14

This device currently only works with the Chrome browser, and I can verify it works flawlessly with my Chromebook, and my Chromebox. No word yet on whether Google plans to release APIs so other browsers (like Firefox) can add support.

To learn more about the new security key, click here.

About James Welbes

James is a guy who does things. Lots of things. Nothing weird, mostly computer things like blogging, web development, Netflix. He's a total Google fanboy, (despite Allo) and has been recognized as a Google Expert in Google's Chromebook Central product forum.