Google has updated its Smartlock app for iPhone to now allow Apple users to utilise their iPhone as a physical key to unlock first-party Google services, reports say.
According to 9to5Google that first reported the news, Google had rolled out this feature for Android 7+ users last year. Apart from Google’s own Titan security key, tech company Yubico had also rolled out a multi-OS security key for two-factor authentication.
Two-factor authentication, unlike Google authenticator’s six-digit verification code, provides an additional layer of security for your Google account avoiding remote hacking.
This can be done by using your smartphone as a physical security key through Google’s Smartlock App. Once you have updated your software for the feature, you will be prompted to select a Google account for setting up a security key.
Post that, any time you log into your Google account from a device using the Google username and password, you will receive a notification on your Apple phone requesting authentication. You can unlock your phone, click on the notification and authenticate the request from your Google app and proceed with the login.
The built-in security feature is almost similar to the initial Google Prompt functionality with the only difference being Google Prompt works via the Internet while the physical security key works over Bluetooth. Hence, a Bluetooth-enabled Apple smartphone is a pre-requisite for the functionality.
According to a cryptographer at Google, the new functionality uses the iPhone processor’s Secure Enclave to securely store the device’s private keys, The Verge reported. Security enclaves were first provided with iPhone 5S. According to the Google app, the security key function requires iOS 10 or later to function.
According to Apple’s official documentation of the feature, “When you store a private key in the Secure Enclave, you never actually handle the key, making it difficult for the key to become compromised. Instead, you instruct the Secure Enclave to create the key, securely store it, and perform operations with it.”
iPhone, as a physical security key, is now part of Google’s Advanced Protection Program for maximum protection against phishing and other similar cyber threats, according to The Verge.