By Harry McCracken | Monday, September 20, 2010 at 2:36 am
Passwords may be by far the Web’s most common form of security, but they’re far from airtight: some get stolen, and others are alarmingly easy to figure out. Two-factor authentication, using both a password and something else–preferably a something else that’s tough for an intruder to determine–is much safer.
So today, Google is announcing two-factor authentication for its Google Apps suite of online productivity tools. A new feature lets businesses which use Apps add another layer of security by generating random codes which employees get on their phones–Google is making apps available for Android, iPhone, and BlackBerry . To get into your account, you’ve got to enter both your password and a freshly-generated code.
The new feature is free and optional, and users who adopt it can specify certain PCs as trusted machines, permitting them to access their accounts with only a password. It’s available for paid, education, and government accounts starting today; users of the freebie Standard edition will get it “in the months ahead.”