In the movies, the really secure safes require two separate keys turned at the same time. The nuclear launch codes or the bank vaults have at least two separate locks. Take the famous heist scene in the first "Mission: Impossible" movie: the door to that super-secure room required a voice code, a key card and a retina scan.
It's not just the movies. Using multiple keys simultaneously is good security sense. Any one key can be stolen or compromised, but thieves still can't get in. When it comes to your personal information, you can't be too careful. That's why more and more big tech companies are stressing two-factor authentication.
That just means that you would use two ways of confirming your identity to access your accounts. If you bank online, it's almost guaranteed that your bank uses two-factor authentication. That's what Google wants to do also, but it has a very interesting way of going about it.
It's an ancient invention, used for centuries - but modernized to secure you digital life. It is a physical key.
Google wants you to start using a physical key in addition to entering your password to access your account. This security key would also be able to verify that the site you're accessing is a trusted Google gateway.
This program is called Security Key, and it's an open source framework for anybody to construct a second factor of authentication. The key could essentially be any USB drive. You would install Security Key on the drive. Then, whenever you wanted to log into your Google account, you'd insert the USB into your computer. It would verify the site and send a custom passcode. Then you would enter your password and the two steps verify your identity.
This means much better protection against phishing attacks. You wouldn't be able to access your Google account without the Security Key, and it would identify any spoofed Google site as a fake.
Security Key is free, but you need to get a compatible USB drive compliant with FIDO U2F. If a USB device is compliant, it will have an identifying logo that says "FIDO U2F Ready." Also, it only works with the Google Chrome Web browser on devices with a USB drive - so only laptops and some tablets.
You don't need a USB Security Key to start using two-factor authentication. Click here to read my simple, handy tip on how to start giving your important accounts an added layer of security.