How Google has kept 85K employees from getting phished since 2017

Google Uses Physical USB Security Keys to Prevent Employee Phishing

Google Uses Physical USB Security Keys to Prevent Employee Phishing

Google hasn't experienced any successful phishing attacks since early a year ago, the company has revealed, thanks to the company-wide use of physical security keys.

Google successfully protected its 85,000 employees from getting phished on their work accounts by utilizing physical security keys as part of a 2FA strategy. "It all depends on the sensitivity of the app and the risk of the user at that point in time". Once the key is connected to a website that supports USB keys, the user doesn't need to enter their password again unless they want to access the account on another machine.

The idea, known as two-factor authentication, mean even if hackers know your password, they still can not log in to your account unless they also hack or possess that second factor - usually your phone or USB key. For someone to compromise those accounts when secured with the physical key, they need to phish your login details and then steal the key from you in real life. Google has taken a similar approach for its employees but with U2F or Universal 2 Factor, using a security key that has completely neutralised the threat of phishing on their networks.

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Google took this one step farther in early 2017, and required all employees to start using a security key, according to Krebs. By using some hardware anyone can buy: USB security keys. It's supported by browsers including Chrome, Firefox and Opera. However, the report noted that U2F is not enabled by default in Firefox. Trying to hack someone with this security setup isn't easy, but it can still be done. Microsoft will update Edge later this year for support and there is no word on if Apple will support it. The biggest internet services, such as Google, Facebook and Twitter, actually already offer this security solution and you can use it now for free. According to a recent article at, Apple has not yet said when or if it will support the standard in its Safari browser. That's because thieves can intercept that one-time code by tricking your mobile provider into either swapping your mobile device's SIM card or "porting" your mobile number to a different device. Google has worked with various industry groups, such as the FIDO Alliance, to develop security key technology called U2F. But it's a good idea to generate the special codes you'll receive through an authenticator app, instead of via SMS messages.

Google created a web page,, to walk users through setting up advanced protection, including where to purchase USB and Bluetooth security keys on Amazon.

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