Using a strong password is the accepted standard for securing accounts, but in some instances, it’s simply not enough. That is where two factor authentication (2FA) comes into play. If you want to use 2FA to protect your Google account, you can—Google is now selling 2FA Titan security key bundles to the public at $50 a pop.
It’s listed as a bundle because you’re getting two pieces of hardware. One of them is a standard USB security key measuring 1.7 x 0.8 x 0.1 inches (LxWxH), with NFC support, and the other one is a Bluetooth security key measuring 1.8 x 1.2 x 0.3 inches (LxWxH). You can loop a lanyard through either one (or both), or slide them onto a key ring.
Between the two, the bundle works with all Google phones, Chromebooks, tablets, and anything running Google Chrome. You can also use them with your PC, and all iOS and Android devices.
“Like a second lock after your password, Titan Security Keys help prevent phishing and keep out anyone who shouldn’t have access to your online accounts. Security keys are the same level of security used internally at Google,” Google explains.
On the product page, Google says the Titan security key is “engineered by Google” and “built on FIDO open standards.” What the company doesn’t say is that it’s different than the one used internally. The ones used internally by tens of thousands of Google employees are FIDO U2F-enabled Yubico devices. Yubico issued a blog post last month saying the Titan key is something different, and that it doesn’t manufacture the Titan keys because of security concerns.
“Google’s offering includes a Bluetooth (BLE) capable key. While Yubico previously initiated development of a BLE security key, and contributed to the BLE U2F standards work, we decided not to launch the product as it does not meet our standards for security, usability and durability. BLE does not provide the security assurance levels of NFC and USB, and requires batteries and pairing that offer a poor user experience,” Yubico said.
A representative at Google told Android Police that it does not agree with Yubico’s assessment, noting that Bluetooth has been standardized by the FIDO alliance. There is a level of risk, but Google feels it’s worth the trade off for the convenience factor.
You can order the Titan security bundle now at the Google Store.