Google on Wednesday used its annual developer conference to demonstrate its commitment to protecting people from cyber threats, as well as providing more options for users to anonymize in its world-leading search product.
Among the most important projects is the search giant’s promise to provide people with passwordless technology. At its I/O conference, the company said Google plans to automatically enroll users in two-factor authentication, a technology that should help reduce the risks posed by phishing. The addition of two-factor authentication follows news last week thatwhich includes Microsoft and Apple, as well as Google, has been phasing out passwords on websites and apps.
Google also said it will launch virtual credit cards for Chrome and the Android mobile operating system later this year. The technology works by replacing a virtual credit card number with the actual number stored on the browser or on the device. Retailers learn about the virtual card, allowing them to process transactions without seeing the real number. This process means that if a retailer is hacked, internet thieves will get a fake virtual number that will not be of much use. Virtual Cards will launch in the US first and will arrive in Chrome for iOS later.
Google used its Developer Conference, held near its headquarters in Mountain View, California, to reveal important changes to its flagship search product. The changes are designed to address long-standing concerns that the tech giant is collecting too much information about people who use its search service, in order to deliver personalized advertising, which is the core of its revenue.
The new tools, called Protected Computing, will help users anonymize online and have better control by reducing their data footprint. Protected computing changes how, when, and where data is processed. This will reduce the amount of personally identifiable data collected and use arbitrary methods to mask the links between a user’s identity and their data. Protected Computing will also use end-to-end encryption to prevent anyone, including Google, from seeing sensitive data.
Hiding sensitive data requires that people have better control over how it appears in search. Last month, Google said it released new tools to remove personally identifiable information from search to make it easier for people to remove details such as phone numbers, home addresses and email addresses. This feature will be available in the next few months in the Google app.
Google also gives people more control over the ads they see. With the My Ad Center, users will be able to customize the types of ads they see on YouTube, Search, and their Discover feeds. Google hopes the ads would be less annoying if people could control what types they saw. For Google and the companies that use it to advertise, giving people more control should allow companies to serve more relevant ads. (Google has already allowed users to.)
Google has also said that it will bring a security status notification system to apps. People will see a yellow alert icon on their profile picture in apps to encourage them to take steps to improve their security, such as patching potential vulnerabilities. Phishing protection is also expanding beyond Gmail and into Google Workspace, including Docs, Sheets, and Slides.