Google's two-factor authentication system is a great way to keep your email and other accounts safe, especially if you've always got a smartphone (or even a dumb phone) around. Today Google is adding even more options beyond the current phone call, text message, email, and app-based verification. The latest update to the desktop version of Chrome lets you use a USB key as your two-factor security token, ensuring access via both your physical presence and your login password.
Account security is a tough issue for a lot of people. It's a constant balancing act between having a stronger system to keep out would-be invaders while also making it convenient enough that users won't reject it. After Google began offering its own 2-step verification system, several other services adopted the same mechanism and opt-in model for people that wanted more than a single password protecting their personal data. This generally left users with Google's Authenticator app, which got the job done, but it lacked features and languished on an early Holo dark design.
Just yesterday Google announced that it would soon allow users to send video and other entertainment items to a nearby Chromecast even when they're not connected to the same WiFi network, with the backend relying on location data for verification. It looks like there's some even more interesting technology going on behind the scenes. GigaOm reports that the upcoming update will allow Chromecast and Android devices to authenticate each other using ultrasonic waves.
How many times do you unlock your smartphone within the span of a minute? I can't count the number of times I've unlocked my phone, started a podcast, put it down, changed my mind, unlocked the phone, selected a new podcast, put the phone back down, heard a chime, unlocked the phone, responded, and put the phone down - finally - for long enough to focus on something else. For the sake of convenience, I desperately want to leave my phone unlocked, but doing so frankly isn't safe.