Managing security in online activities and transactions has become a difficult challenge, owing to the increased number of security breaches, hacking and discrepancies. As more strict measures are devised and implemented for maintaining online security, hackers are somehow able to find a way around the security layers and infiltrate the restricted areas.
Google has always strived to achieve and maintain the highest levels of security in its products and service. Since the last 3 years, the search engine giant has been working relentlessly to add a new layer to their security measures. The continuous efforts of the company have resulted in the development of a free extension called ‘Password Alert’ for its Chrome web browser. This extension has been developed to protect all Google accounts from being compromised.
Example of a “Phishing” Page (Source: Google Blog)
The image above depicts a potential threat involving the use of “phishing techniques” which are commonly used to steal personal data such as passwords. A “phishing page” is a sign-in page that is designed to mimic an authentic Google sign-in page. There are some signs that can be checked for determining the authenticity of the page. However, most people are unaware of these crucial giveaway signs so they usually fall into this honey-trap.
How Does “Password Alert” Work?
‘Password Alert’ checks the HTML of any page you visit and checks if it’s impersonating a Google sign-in page. When the extension has been installed in the Chrome browser, it would store a “scrambled version” of the account password. This crucial data is only recorded for the purpose of monitoring security status for the page. Appropriate measures have been taken to ensure that the confidentiality of this information is not compromised in any manner.
When you attempt to login with your credentials on a suspicious page, the Password Alert extension will display a message (as shown in the image below) and inform you of the possible threat that you could be exposed to if you do not check your action in time. If you receive this alert, then it would be a good idea to change your password and update the details immediately just to ensure the safety of your account in the rare event that your details are compromised.
Example of a “Password Alert” on accessing a Non-Google Login Page (Source: Google Blog)
Drew Hintz, the lead engineer for Password Alert, said, “Right now, it’s left up to the user to decide whether or not to enter their password. We expect users to know the difference between these sites, and that’s an unreasonable request to make of users.” This clearly indicates that the security extension is tasked with the responsibility of informing the users about potentially malicious sites, and it is up to the user to proceed accordingly after fully understanding the implications of his actions as well as the level of risk that he is exposing himself to.
Password Alert for Workplaces
Password Alert is also available to Google for Work customers, including Google Apps and Drive for Work. However, this needs to be installed / enabled by the Administrator who would have to install the extension for everyone in the domains they manage. Not only would this help to reduce (and discourage) password reuse, but it can also help in the identification of malicious hackers trying to infiltrate the accounts of employees. This is a serious issue which is being curbed with the use of Google’s latest security extension for Chrome.
Enhanced Protection against Phishing
Google has reported that millions of phishing emails as well as links to malicious sites are sent every day. 2% of messages sent through Google’s communication services are intended to steal passwords. This is the new face of digital hacking where users are duped into revealing information without realizing that they are providing sensitive information in a potentially malicious site. Let’s hope that the new security extension is able to provide some relief to users and help them avoid situations where their personal data is compromised.
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