iPhones Can Now Be Used to Generate 2FA Security Keys for Google Accounts

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A new update to Google's Smart Lock iOS app lets users set up their iPhone or iPad as a security key for two-factor authentication when signing into native Google services via Chrome browser.

Once the feature is set up in the app, attempting to log in to a Google service via Chrome on another device such as a laptop results in a push notification being sent to their iOS device.

The user then has to unlock their iPhone or iPad using Face ID or Touch ID and confirm the log-in attempt via the Smart Lock app before it can complete on the other device.

After installing the update, users are asked to select a Google account to set up their phone's built-in security key. According to a Google cryptographer, the feature makes use of Apple's Secure Enclave hardware, which securely stores Touch ID, Face ID, and other cryptographic data on iOS devices.

The Smart Lock app requires that Bluetooth is enabled on both the iPhone/iPad and the other device for two-factor authentication to work, so they have to be in close proximity, but the advantage of the system is that it ensures the process is localized and can't be leaked onto the internet.

The Google Smart Lock app is a free download for iPhone and iPad on the App Store. [Direct Link]

(Via 9to5Google.com)

Article Link: iPhones Can Now Be Used to Generate 2FA Security Keys for Google Accounts
 

Vincent Verbist

macrumors newbie
Jan 15, 2020
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Can someone explain the functional difference between the 'Google'-app I have on my iPhone, which prompts me to verify it's me whenever I login to any Google-services?
 
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melvynadam

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Dec 16, 2010
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I came here to ask the same question - there's already an app for this and it's already made by Google. Why would I want/need a standalone app? Are they removing this function from the Gmail app?
 

HandITOVER

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Jan 13, 2020
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You can't do that with Apple Watch! The Apple wearable platform is an afterthought.
 
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melvynadam

macrumors member
Dec 16, 2010
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I may have worked out what Google's aiming at - replacing the physical bluetooth security keys (the ones that compete with Yubi) with your bluetooth-enabled smartphone.
In theory, why carry a bluetooth security key if my smartphone can authenticate me? Then this can be used for multiple services - not just securing your Google account.
 

I7guy

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Nov 30, 2013
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I came here to ask the same question - there's already an app for this and it's already made by Google. Why would I want/need a standalone app? Are they removing this function from the Gmail app?
This process seems different in that an Internet connection is not required to authenticate.
 
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TriBruin

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Jul 28, 2008
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Can someone explain the functional difference between the 'Google'-app I have on my iPhone, which prompts me to verify it's me whenever I login to any Google-services?
The way I am reading this, is that it eliminates the push from Google and handles everything locally. When you attempt to sign-in, Chrome will check for the presence of your trusted device (iPhone) via local Bluetooth and prompt you directly. This, in theory, eliminates any chance for a bad actor intercepting the internet based push notification.
 

jk1211

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Sep 13, 2018
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The way I am reading this, is that it eliminates the push from Google and handles everything locally. When you attempt to sign-in, Chrome will check for the presence of your trusted device (iPhone) via local Bluetooth and prompt you directly. This, in theory, eliminates any chance for a bad actor intercepting the internet based push notification.

You would think that is incredibly hard already to crack/spoof an Apple push notification from the Google app itself; far more than SMS. I dont know that this new way offers much more to the average person. In a very high security environment using Goole Apps (not sure why you would do that to begin with then, but ok) I guess.

Its also unclear how not needing an internet connection would help if you are logging into Google which requires internet. That argument doesnt make a ton of sense obviously.

Not knocking more options, its just a bit unclear the differences between this and using the Google app to authenticate 2FA.
 
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Vincent Verbist

macrumors newbie
Jan 15, 2020
2
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The way I am reading this, is that it eliminates the push from Google and handles everything locally. When you attempt to sign-in, Chrome will check for the presence of your trusted device (iPhone) via local Bluetooth and prompt you directly. This, in theory, eliminates any chance for a bad actor intercepting the internet based push notification.
Okay, that's something I can understand, but still strange that there is not a single reference to the current solution through the Google app...
 
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Westside guy

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Oct 15, 2003
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There are also standard ways to do two-factor auth, one of which is even implemented by Google through their Google Authenticator app (RFC 6238 time-based one-time passwords - I prefer the OTP Auth app for it) and can be implemented by any app developer for increased security without having to be beholden to Google or any other single entity. I realize some people will complain about having to copy 6 digits (oh the horror), but I prefer standard solutions like that to tying my security to Google - or, for that matter, to having all these vendor-specific two-factor approaches (Apple does it one way, Google does it another, etc.).
 

atomic.flip

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Dec 7, 2008
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Orange County, CA
This is great! Funny thing I just bought a bunch of security keys to test this sort of functionality. Google already supported doing this with their Pixel line of phones. They have security hardware in them similar to keys by Yubi and Feitian. Good stuff.
 

MisterSavage

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Nov 10, 2018
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Okay, that's something I can understand, but still strange that there is not a single reference to the current solution through the Google app...
It does seem really strange that they don't mention the current solution and why this new one would be better/different. I already like just clicking "yes it's me" from the Google (or Gmail app).