Google Adds USB-C Model For Titan Security Key

Google has released an additional option to its range of two-factor authentication (2FA) security keys, with the release of a USB-C model, compatible with Android, Chrome OS, macOS, and Windows devices.

Google had first revealed its Titan Security Key to the world back in August 2018, but the device was only available on sale in the United States.

Then in August this year Google made the key available for sale to British users, costing £50 and available in two form factors: a key-shaped USB stick and a Bluetooth key fob.

Titan key

The device is an evolution of what first appeared back in 2017, when Google revealed the existence of its Titan Security chip.

This chip was the size of stud earring and was already installed on thousands of servers within Google data centres. It was designed to be predominantly a hardware protection device.

The physical key is designed to offer users increased security, by providing two-factor authentication (2FA), which is still one of the best ways to protect against credential stuffing.

Essentially it works by providing a set of physical hardware keys that can be used with a user’s digital accounts.

The two pieces of the Titan hardware set (the key-shaped USB stick and a Bluetooth key fob), both serve the same purpose. They are designed to act as physical authentication tokens that prove that a person is who they say when they are trying to login.

Traditional two-factor authentication has in the past used a SMS code sent to a mobile phone or app. The Titan Security Key basically removes the need for the code to be sent via SMS, and will work in areas where there is no mobile network coverage or Wi-Fi networks.

To setup the Titan key, users will need a Google account with two-factor authentication turned on.

There is an option in the two-factor authentication section to allow for a new hardware login device.

The user should then plug the key into a computer’s USB port. One press of the fob’s button, or a tap of its NFC chip if you’re setting up the USB key, and it will be linked to your Google account.

Once setup, the next time the user needs to access their Google account, they can press the button before entering their password. This removes the need for an SMS message to be sent to your device.

USB-C version

Now there is a USB-C option, after Google revealed in a blog post that it had teamed up with Yubico to manufacture the USB-C Titan Security Key, all versions of which are built to the FIDO standard.

“USB-C Titan Security Keys will be available tomorrow individually for $40 on the Google Store in the United States,” Google wrote. “USB-A/NFC and Bluetooth/NFC/USB Titan Security Keys will also become available individually in addition to the existing bundle. Bulk orders are available for enterprise organisations in select countries.”

However, it should be noted that the USB-C model lacks the NFC capabilities that its other two keys have.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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