by Harry Guinness on
If you’ve any interest in writing nicely then a $1 ballpoint won’t cut it, you need to look at a fountain pen.
Google’s getting into the two-factor security key game with their freshly released Titan Security Key Bundle. We’re always talking about two-factory security around here and with good reason: it’s the best thing you can do to protect your accounts. Here’s how the Titan holds up.
If you’re unfamiliar with two-factor authentication (usually abbreviated to 2FA), we’d highly recommend checking out our detailed guide on the subject over at How-To Geek. Here’s the quick summary though: a “factor” in this instance is simply something used to valid that you are, well, you. The three most common security factors are: what you know (like your email password), what you have (like the key to your house), and what you are (like your fingerprint to unlock your phone). Two-factor security with a physical key is called such because it combines two factors (what you know and what you have) to add extra security to your accounts.
While there are a variety of security keys available, Google just released a brilliant two-fold security solution with the Titan Key. The package includes not one, but two security keys: one USB and one Bluetooth/USB. This is a fantastic solution for keeping your account secure. And best of all, it’s only $50.
You may be wondering why on earth you need two security keys, which is a good thing to ponder (especially if you’re trying to cut down on clutter).The primary benefit is that dual keys give you a second layer of security in case you lose your “main” key. It makes a lot of sense if you think about it.
But the Titan Key set also makes it easy to sign in on mobile, too. Since it has a USB-only key and a Bluetooth LE key, you get the best of both worlds—especially since the Bluetooth key also works over USB.
You register both keys on all the accounts where you want the extra security, then toss the USB-only key in a drawer as a backup. Keep the Bluetooth key with you, and use it on any computer or mobile device as needed. Or, if you prefer, you can use the USB key at home on your computer and the Bluetooth model on the go with your phone. It’s a solid solution all around, no matter how you use it.
Each box comes with everything you need to get started with the Titan Key: two keys, a short USB-A to Micro USB cable, and an A to C USB adapter (for devices with only USB-C ports, like the Pixelbook).
In other words, it has everything you need to get started and enjoy rock solid 2FA security. It’s a lot of value for $50, especially when you consider there are plenty of single keys that cost as much as this set.
If you’re not familiar with how security keys work, here’s the gist: when you sign into an account that’s protected by a security key, you’ll have to insert it into your device (or pair over Bluetooth) and press the button. So this requires physical access to the key.
This is basically means it’s virtually impossible to fake, and thus the current strongest form of security against phishing and other account hijacking attempts.
Of course, you have to keep in mind that not all accounts support this type of two factor authentication, so you won’t be able to use it everywhere. But you should absolutely use it on every account that supports it. A lot of the big players are on this list, like Google, Facebook, and Twitter.
To add a key to your account, log in and head to the security section. If security keys are supported, you should see an option that plainly states that—it will say “security key” or something similar. Below is how it looks when you’re in the two-factor authentication section of your Google account.
Once you click that it will walk you through the process, but it’s pretty straightforward: plug it in and press the button when prompted. This is also how you’ll add the Bluetooth key when using a computer.
On mobile, it’s a bit different. First off, you can’t use a USB key on a mobile device—even with the appropriate adapter, it’s not supported. That’s where the Bluetooth key comes in. You’ll still have to add it to your account using the method outlined above, but once it’s part of your account you’ll be able to use it wirelessly.
So, for example, when logging into your Google account, it will request for your key to be paired. You’ll long-press the button to put it in pairing mode, then select it on your phone when prompted. It will ask for the pairing PIN, which is a six-digit code on the back of the key.
It’s a little more cumbersome than just inserting a key and pressing a button, but it’s ultimately worth the tradeoff—the added security is definitely worth the added hassle.
But it’s also a hassle that will hopefully be short-lived—the Bluetooth Titan Key also has NFC built-in, thought it won’t be activated until sometime “later this year”, according to Google. Once it is, you’ll be able to simply tap the key to the back of the phone to authenticate. That’s pretty legit and we’re excited for that feature to become active.
It’s also worth mentioning that the Bluetooth key needs to be charged every so often—Google claims it can go six months between charges, but I’d juice it up more often than that just to make sure it’s always good to go. It’d be nice if lasted a year or longer in some sort of ultra-low-energy state, but that’s a minor complaint.
When it comes down to it, this is a good deal for anyone looking to up their account security—two keys for $50 is a solid price, especially since you’re not just getting two products for the price but handy pair designed, more or less, to work in tandem. Sure, you could get a Bluetooth key and a separate USB key, but you’ll likely end up spending more to get the same functionality and without the tandem design.
The Google Titan keys are available today in the Google Store.
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