MOUNTAIN VIEW – Google on Thursday announced that it’s expanding its high security features to iOS apps, including Apple Mail, Contacts and Calendar.
Google first rolled out the program last October, designed to protect high-risk internet users, like politicians, campaign staffers, business leaders, journalists with confidential sources and people in abusive relationships seeking safety.
The protection program is opt-in, but locks down your account with a physical security key for authentication, and blocks account access from untrusted sources. For nearly seven months, that meant that you could only access your emails and Google Drive files from a Google app.
The security measures limited access to emails and files from non-Google apps, which used to include iOS’ apps. Before Thursday’s changes, you couldn’t forward your Gmail to Apple Mail, under the security program, for example.
You’ll now be able to sync up your calendar, emails and files from Google on your iPhone or iPad, without using Google’s apps.
With Apple’s earnings report from Tuesday showing that iPhone sales continue to rise, the update from Google offers an opportunity for increased security for millions of people.
“Our goal is to make sure that any user facing an increased risk of online attacks enrolls in the Advanced Protection Program,” Dario Salice, the Advanced Protection product manager, said in a blog post. “Today, we’ve made it easier for our iOS users to be in the program, and we’ll continue our work to make the program more easily accessible to users around the world.”
The security features are designed to prevent phishing attacks and unauthorized logins, an issue Google faced during the 2016 US presidential election. Former Hillary Clinton aide John Podesta had his Gmail account hacked after falling for an elaborate phishing scheme. Unauthorized access from third-party apps can also lead to hackers taking over accounts, like last May when a fake version of Google Docs tricked about 1 million people and compromised their accounts.