This key drive actually unlocks something: Authentication via USB comes to Chrome

Google's Chrome browser is taking some headaches out of two-step authentication with Security Key, which lets users sign in using a USB device.

The new sign-in method works with GoogleGoogle services within the desktop Chrome browser. After entering a password, users must then insert a supported USB key, which can be purchased online for as little as $6. Google has posted setup instructions on its Website, along with some answers to common questions. Alles zu Google auf

Previously, signing into Google services with two-step authentication required a verification code. Users could receive the code by text message, generate it through an authenticator app or print it out for offline access. The problem with those methods is that if your phone dies, or it can't get online, or you forget to bring your printout when signing in on a new machine, you're stuck. A USB key, by contrast, is easy to keep with you on a keychain or in your laptop bag, and it doesn't need online access to work.

Why this matters: While device-based authentication isn't new, Google has become the first major Internet service to support the idea. This is also the first use of two-factor authentication standards from the FIDO Alliance, a group that's aiming to make online sign-ins easier through open standards. The group counts other tech heavyweights such as MicrosoftMicrosoft and Samsung among its members, so hopefully this paves the way for even more USB-based authentication options around the Web. Alles zu Microsoft auf

USB sign-in pros and cons

As Google itself points out, USB-based sign-in isn't ideal in all circumstances. It's a non-starter for phones and tablets, which typically don't have full-sized USB ports, and right now it doesn't work in any desktop browser besides Chrome.

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