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Google endorses a simpler way to secure your data

Even the strongest passwords can be hacked, which is why Google urges users to adopt two-step authentication. A new USB drive makes it easier for users to safeguard their data.

Google supports the new Security Key. Stick it into your computer, open Chrome and voila -- you're logged in. Google

Google just made safe computing a little easier.

The company said on Tuesday that it supports USB drives built on an increasingly popular software standard that makes two-factor authentication a lot less cumbersome.

With two- factor authentication, users combine something they know -- such as a password or personal identification number -- with something they have -- such as a phone or fingerprint. The combination makes it harder for hackers to access websites even if they manage to guess users' IDs and passwords. Currently, anyone setting up Google's two-factor authentication must enter a six-digit confirmation code sent to their phone before they can sign in from a new device. Inserting a Security Key USB drive ahead of time eliminates having to type in those codes.

The Security Key specialized USB drives are available on Amazon, and start at $17.99.

The specialized drive, built on the Security Key standard, will also prevent users from accidentally logging into fake Google sites, according to Nishit Shah, product manager of Google Security. "When you sign into your Google Account using Chrome and Security Key, you can be sure that the cryptographic signature cannot be phished," he wrote in a blog post.

Phishing is a type of attack where attackers make fake websites look like official ones with the express purpose of convincing people to submit personal information -- including username and password. Instead of logging you into your Gmail or your bank account, the phishing site sends your credentials back to the attackers.

Security Key drives work only the version 38 or newer of the Google Chrome browser, according to Google. To find out which version you're using, go to "Chrome" on the Chrome menu and click on "About Google Chrome." The version number will appear next to the About line.