New Google Verification Feature Made to Prevent Phishing Attacks

Google Accounts to Prevent Phishing Attacks

Google has announced, for Google accounts, a new feature that would help successfully combat phishing attacks.

In an update dated 25th April on its G Suite blog, Google had announced the introduction of this new verification feature (which will be available from May 7th, 2018) for all Google account holders who rely on Google Chrome for browsing and who access Google G Suite services through their organizations.

The introduction of this feature would be part of Google’s attempts to improve the security of a Google account by verifying that the person who’s signing in doesn’t sign in to an account created by a hacker.

The G Suite blog states- “If your organization uses SAML to sign users in to G Suite services*, those users will soon see an additional step in the process when using Chrome as their web browser. Starting on May 7th, 2018, after signing in on a SAML provider’s website, they’ll be brought to a new screen on accounts.google.com to confirm their identity. This screen will provide an additional layer of security and help prevent users from unknowingly signing in to an account created and controlled by an attacker.”

This new feature would not appear regularly; it’s planned to be shown only once per account per device, so as to minimize disruption for the user. Google is also working on making the feature more context-aware in the future so that users get to see the new screen less and less over time.

Since this feature would help prevent a user from signing in to a fake account created by an attacker, it would prove very effective in combating phishing attacks. The G Suite blog says- “This new screen is intended to prevent would-be attackers from tricking a user (e.g. via a phishing campaign) into clicking a link that would instantly and silently sign them in to a Google Account the attacker controls. Today, this can be done via SAML single sign-on (SSO), because it doesn’t require a user interaction to complete a sign-in. To protect Chrome users, we’ve added this extra protection.”

Such a feature is of much relevance today when phishing attacks targeting organizations seem to be really rampant, all across the world.

Google also seeks, through this feature, to create a consistent identity across Google web services and native Chrome browser services. The G Suite blog elaborates upon this- “This new security feature is part of a larger project to create a consistent identity across Google web services (like Gmail) and native Chrome browser services (like Chrome Sync). This consistency will make it easier for signed-in G Suite users to take advantage of native Chrome browser features, but it requires additional protection during authentication. This new screen adds that protection and reduces the probability that attackers successfully abuse SAML SSO to sign users in to malicious accounts.”

Those who want to disable the new screen for their organization can do so for specific domains, which are supposed to be trusted by the organization’s users.

Julia Sowells960 Posts

Julia Sowells has been a technology and security professional. For a decade of experience in technology, she has worked on dozens of large-scale enterprise security projects, and even writing technical articles and has worked as a technical editor for Rural Press Magazine. She now lives and works in New York, where she maintains her own consulting firm with her role as security consultant while continuing to write for Hacker Combat in her limited spare time.

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