What is Google Titan?

Screenshot 2019-04-02 at 12.11.40Google Titan is a set of physical security keys that can be used to keep your Google account secure.  Do you save your passwords, payment details or other personal information in your Google account?  Think about what you are keeping in Google Drive, does that make you a bit nervous?  If so, you are likely a candidate to use a lesser known type of authentication that uses physical keys in addition to your standard password.

Using Google Titan

After purchasing and registering the keys available from Yubico or Google, they can be used along with other 2-factor authentication schemes to log into your Google account.  So, like sending an SMS message with a code to your phone, or using Google Authenticator to provide a code, you can use the physical keys as a third alternative to providing access to your Google account from a new device or browser.

Using Google Titan with Advanced Protection

A more advanced and preferred way to use security keys is with a companion service Google calls Advanced Protection. Enabling Advanced Protection requires physical security keys and does two things.

  1. It logs you out of access to all devices and Chrome browsers.
  2. It revokes all other forms of 2-factor authentication. 

In other words, the physical keys are the only way to log into your Google account using a new device or Chrome browser with Advanced Protection enabled.

How does it all work

This can be a bit confusing to the uninitiated.  But to sum up, using Titan keys without Advanced Protection is not any different from other 2-factor authentication and can be enabled along with other 2-factor schemas.  The real security from Titan keys is using them with Advanced Protection.

So like me, you likely have some questions.  Let me try to answer those that I had as simply as possible.

Can I use the Titan keys with my Chromebook and Android phone?
Yes, the Titan keys, with or without Advanced Protection, will work with any Chrome OS device, the Chrome browser used with devices running other operating systems and your Android smartphone.

With Advanced Protection turned on, will I need the physical keys for every login?
No, the keys are only required for the initial login to Google on a device or browser, and in the event of a system reset, e.g. power washing your Chromebook.  When you enable Advanced Protection you will be advised that every device and browser will be automatically logged out of your Google account so each will need to be logged back in using the physical key.

Is there any charge for the Advanced Protection service?
No, you will have to purchase security keys to use the system, but there is no initial or recurring charge for AP.

Can I disable Advanced Protection and unregister the keys if I decide not to use these security mechanisms?
Yes, so long as you are still logged into a device or browser you can go to https://account.google.com and disable Advanced Protection, and you can unregister keys in Chrome settings.

Can I still access my Google account from my smart TV to access Google services like Youtube or Youtube TV?
Yes, however, you will need to log into your Google account from those devices again, using your smartphone.  You will need to login to your smartphone first using the physical key as your smartphone will be used to login to your Google account from your TV.

Will my Google assistant devices like Google Home and mini still work?
Yes, they will, however, you may need to scan for and re-enable some smart home devices from the Google Home app on your smartphone in order to get everything working again.

You can learn more and obtain Google Titan keys at Titan Security Key Bundle from the Google Store.

Please let me know if you have other questions that I might be able to answer by leaving a comment below, and thanks for reading.  J

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