Google makes iPhones extremely secure

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Advanced Protection Program
The Advanced Protection Program makes accessing Google accounts on your iPhone much harder to hack into.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Google’s service making its accounts uncommonly secure has been extended to iOS native apps. This is only for people who carry around really sensitive information and who therefore expect their iPhone or iPad to come under sophisticated attack.

Starting today, the Advanced Protection Program supports Apple Mail, Calendar, and Contacts. Naturally, this is only for those who connect these iOS apps to Google accounts.

This program is overkill for most people. It’s for “campaign staffers preparing for an upcoming election, journalists who need to protect the confidentiality of their sources, or people in abusive relationships seeking safety,” according to Dario Salice, Google’s Advanced Protection Product Manager. It also might be right for activists and business leaders.

A very Advanced Protection Program

The program requires a security key ($24.99) to sign into Google accounts. This is a small USB or wireless device that provides a digital signature. Without the key’s two-factor authentication, the account cannot be accessed, even with the password.

Only specified apps can connect with Gmail or Google Drive accounts, preventing the user from inadvertently providing access to other software that’s less secure.

The Advanced Protection Program also makes the process of recovering a lost user name or password more secure, including additional reviews and requests for more details about why you’ve lost access to your account. This defeats a low-tech method often used by hackers to get into accounts.

For iPhone native apps

Previously, this security program was available only to iPhone users who accessed their accounts through Google’s own software. With today’s change, those who are enrolled in the protection program can use Apple’s native apps to get to their Gmail, Calendar, and Contacts data.

“Our goal is to make sure that any user facing an increased risk of online attacks enrolls in the Advanced Protection Program. Today, we’ve made it easier for our iOS users to be in the program,” said Google’s Salice.

Security must be balanced with convenience. Most people aren’t willing to put up with the additional hassle required for this program. But if you’d like your Google accounts to be much more secure, and you’re willing to jump through some hoops every day, the Advanced Protection Program is there.