Google's new spoof-resistant alerts will notify you of security breaches

Google Assistant on Pixel 3a
Google Assistant on Pixel 3a (Image credit: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google is rolling out a new highly-visible critical alerts feature that will notify you of a serious security breach that could affect your Google account.
  • They'll be visible from any Google app and resistant to spoofing as it won't be done over the relatively insecure email medium.
  • Google is also adding a guest mode to the assistant.

Google is rolling out two new security features for Google account holders. One is relatively light, the other is more serious and impactful.

Starting with the first, incognito mode started as a Chrome feature for people who didn't want Google or their browser to store information about their session for whatever reason. The company has since then extended it to apps like YouTube and Google Maps. In the coming weeks, a version of it'll be coming to the Google Assistant as a new Guest mode.

Google's Rahul Roy-Chowdhury, Vice President of Product, Privacy explained on Wednesday:

With an easy voice command, you can turn on Guest mode, and your Assistant interactions while in this mode won't be saved to your account. You can turn off Guest mode at any time to get the full, personalized Google Assistant experience again.

That's just the least of the new privacy features Google is choosing to highlight. The company will now notify you with high-visibility security alerts if it detects your account has been compromised. The intent of this is to make you aware of the situation as quickly as possible so you can take action on it.

It's going live in the U.S. from today and rolling out globally over the next few weeks.

Roy-Chowdhury explained:

When we detect a serious Google Account security issue, we'll automatically display an alert within the Google app you're using and help you address it—no need to check email or your phone's alerts. The new alerts are resistant to spoofing, so you can always be sure they're coming from us. We'll begin a limited roll out in the coming weeks and plan to expand more broadly early next year

While in an ideal world, most people would take measures like two-factor authentication or use a password manager with discrete passwords for each account, people often don't do that. Google or Facebook or Apple or whoever could have the tightest security in the world, but that sketchy site that offers deals on artisanal pancakes may not. Once it's breached, every account that uses that shared password is considered breached as well.

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and Google's high visibility notifications will let you know when one of those links is particularly rusty before it snaps.

Nest Audio Render

Nest Audio

A sleek successor to a much loved device, the new Nest Audio smart speaker brings better sound and more color than the older Google Home and the smaller Nest Mini. It also comes with a faster Google Assistant for more natural ambient computing.

Michael Allison