Google Makes Two-Step Verification Easier With New Prompt

Security experts regularly urge people to make their online accounts safer with two-factor authentication. Now Google has introduced new settings designed to make that easier for Google Apps administrators and users.

By changing their Google sign-in and security settings, users can now opt for an alternative to the six-digit codes Google usually sends out to enable identity verification via mobile devices. Instead, Google Apps users can choose to receive automated prompts on their smartphones that lets them verify sign-in requests with a single tap.

Announced yesterday on the Google Apps Updates blog, the alternative verification method is rolling out this week to Android users who have the latest version of Google Play Services on their devices. People with iOS devices will have to install the Google Search app first to use the new verification prompt.

Looking Beyond Passwords

Like many other tech companies, Google has been exploring ways to help users keep their accounts secure beyond the use of simple passwords, which can be easily forgotten, stolen or guessed.

For example, Google this month expects to begin real-world tests of its Project Abacus, a program aimed at helping to "get rid of passwords." Built using machine intelligence for user verification, the project's Trust API -- thought to employ facial recognition technology -- is being tried out by several large financial institutions, according to Google.

Passwords, sometimes described as one-factor authentication, do not always guarantee security, especially not when users choose easy-to-remember phrases or strings that also tend to be easy for hackers to guess. Just last month, data from millions of LinkedIn accounts hacked four years earlier appeared for sale on the dark Web. Analysis of those records showed that hundreds of thousands of those accounts used passwords such as "123456," "linkedin" and "password."

Security a Constantly Moving Target

In another security update...

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