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Google launches advanced Gmail security features for high-risk users

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ALPHABET’S Google, Inc said on Tuesday it would roll out an “advanced protection program” to provide stronger e-mail security for some users such as government officials, political activists, and journalists who are at a higher risk of being targeted by sophisticated hackers.

Google users will have the ability to opt in to security settings aimed at protecting Gmail, Google Drive and YouTube data from phishing attacks.

The advanced protection features include an option to require a physical USB security key to connect to a desktop computer before each log-in as a way to verify a user’s identity. Mobile log-ins will require a Bluetooth wireless device.

Advanced protection users will have their data walled off from access by any non-Google third-party applications, such as the Apple iOS mail client or Microsoft Outlook.

The program also includes a more laborious and detailed account recovery process to prevent fraudulent access by hackers who try to gain access by pretending they have been locked out.

Although Google has previously supported the use of security keys for what is known as two-factor authentication, advanced protection users will have no backup log-in method available if they lose their keys other than the fuller account recovery process.

Google did not specify what the recovery process would entail.

The rollout of a suite of new e-mail security services follows a US presidential election last year shaped in part by the disclosure of e-mails belonging to associates of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton that were obtained through phishing schemes.

Google created a Web page, g.co/advancedprotection, to walk users through setting up advanced protection, including where to purchase USB and Bluetooth security keys on Amazon. — Reuters

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