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Google's Advanced Protection helps high-risk internet users

The program is specifically for campaign staffers, journalists, people in abusive relationships and others who face a higher-than-normal chance of hacking.


Google says the program is for a small subset of users who are at greater risk than most.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Google released on Tuesday a new security feature specifically for people with Google accounts who are at higher-than-normal risk of getting hacked.

The Advanced Protection Program was created for folks like campaign staffers preparing for an upcoming election, journalists needing to protect confidential sources and people in abusive relationships who are seeking safety. 

Google took the unusual step of creating a program for this small subset of users because of their greater risk online and because they've been previously overlooked for additional protections, Dario Salice, Google's Advanced Protection product manager, said in a blog post.

With the reference to campaign workers, it seems clear that Google is responding to months of news reports about Russian hacking of the 2016 US presidential election that have put a harsh spotlight on Google, Facebook and Twitter. Google has also been working on other new security measures since disclosing that Russia-linked ads on its search engine may have been used to influence last year's election.

The Advanced Protection Program provides a series of extra security barriers. To log in to their Gmail and other Google accounts, people enrolled in the program will need a physical security key that plugs into a USB port or they need a verification code. Google also has limited the number of apps that can fully access Gmail and Drive accounts. For now, these will include only Google apps, but Google expects to expand the number of apps.

Also, if you (or someone impersonating you) tells Google you've been locked out of your account, Google will take additional steps to review the request and ask for more details about why you lost access to your account.

For now, the program is only available for consumer Google accounts, but Google said anyone with a Google account can enroll.