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Google Passkeys: A Comprehensive Guide for Security-Minded Users

Wooden desk with an open laptop and a Teams meeting on the screen.

  1. Understanding Google Passkeys and Google Smart Lock
  2. Google Passkeys vs Apple Passkeys
  3. Setting Up and Using Google Passkeys
  4. Security Best Practices for Google Passkeys
  5. Backup and Recovery Options for Google Passkeys

As technology advances, secure authentication methods become more crucial to safeguard sensitive data and information. Passkeys are an industry standard developed by the FIDO® Alliance and the World Wide Web Consortium to provide a convenient and secure way to sign in to online accounts. Passkeys are a safer and easier alternative to passwords. With passkeys, users can sign in to apps and websites with a biometric sensor, such as a fingerprint or facial recognition, PIN, or pattern, freeing them from having to remember and manage passwords. In addition, with passkeys, the user's biometric information is never revealed to the website or the app since the biometric data never leaves the user's personal device. To support the convenience of Passkeys, Google has created Google Passkeys. In this article, we will delve into the ins and outs of Google Passkeys, including how to set up and use them, security features, and commonly asked questions. By the end of this article, you will have a comprehensive understanding of Google Passkeys and how they can improve your online security and provide a convenient sign-in experience.

Understanding Google Passkeys and Google Smart Lock

Google Passkeys is a reliable and secure authentication method that enables users to sign in to websites and apps using a fingerprint, face scan, or screen lock PIN. Passkeys are stored in a user's Google account and can be accessed across multiple devices. Google Passkeys offer a passwordless sign-in experience that eliminates the need for traditional passwords, providing increased convenience and security. Unlike passwords, Google Passkeys are based on industry-standard technology that is resistant to phishing, always robust, and designed without shared secrets. They simplify the process of account registration for websites and apps, are user-friendly, and are compatible across devices.

Used in conjunction with Google Passkeys, Google Smart Lock is a feature that allows users to store their passwords, payment information, and other sensitive data securely in their Google accounts. Google Smart Lock can be used across devices and can automatically fill in usernames and passwords for websites and apps when users sign in. Google Smart Lock can also be used to store credit card information for faster and more convenient online purchases.

Overall, Google Passkeys and Google Smart Lock are both innovative technologies that provide a more secure and user-friendly experience for users with a Google account.

Hands typing username and password on a laptop to gain access.

Google Passkeys vs Apple Passkeys

Both Google Passkeys and Apple Passkeys offer a passwordless authentication experience that is designed to be more secure and convenient than traditional passwords. In terms of security, both Google and Apple Passkeys offer robust encryption protocols to protect user data. Google Passkeys requires a Google account, while Apple Passkeys requires an Apple ID. In addition, Google Passkeys will work on Apple devices as well as on other devices that support the feature, while Apple Passkeys are designed to work with Apple devices.

Ultimately, the choice between Apple and Google Passkeys will depend on a user's device preferences and personal preferences. Regardless of which Passkey solution is chosen, they both offer a more secure, convenient, and passwordless authentication experience.

Setting Up and Using Google Passkeys

Setting up and using Google Passkeys is a straightforward process that can be completed in a few simple steps. The following provides more detailed information on how to set up and use Google Passkeys for authentication.

  1. Enable Passkeys in Your Google Account

Sign in to your Google account on a device with the latest version of Google Chrome, then follow these instructions:

  1. Click on your profile picture or initials in the top right corner of the screen and select "Manage your Google Account."
  2. Click on the "Security" tab in the left-hand menu and select "Password" under "Signing in to Google."
  3. Scroll down to "Password-free sign-in" and click "Add."
  4. Follow the on-screen instructions to set up your Passkey. You will need to enter your Google account password, and then choose a method for setting up your Passkey. You can either use a fingerprint sensor, a PIN, or a combination of both.
  5. Use Passkeys for Authentication: Once Passkeys are created and saved in Google, you can use them for authentication in supported apps and services that offer integration with Google Passkeys.
    1. When logging in to a website or app that supports Passkeys, your device will prompt you to use a Passkey instead of entering a traditional password.
    2. Simply select the Passkey you want to use and enter your fingerprint or PIN to authenticate your Passkey.
    3. Enjoy the simplicity of a secure and convenient sign in experience.

It is important to note that Passkeys are stored securely in your Google account and can only be accessed by you. If you ever lose access to your Passkey, you can still sign in using your Google account password.  By enabling Passkeys and managing them through Google Smart Lock, you can simplify the login process and reduce the risk of password-related security breaches.

Setting Up and Using Google Passkeys with 2FA.

Security Considerations and Best Practices for Google Passkeys

Google Passkeys offer a more secure and convenient way to authenticate users without traditional passwords. However, as with any security mechanism, there are best practices that users should follow to ensure the security of their Passkeys. Here are some key security considerations and best practices for Google Passkeys:

  1. Use Strong Master Passwords: When creating the master password for your Google Account, make sure to use a strong and unique password that is not used for any other account. This will help prevent unauthorized access to your Google account and Passkeys.
  2. Keep Your Devices Secure: Your Google Passkeys are stored in Google Smart Lock and synced across all your devices. Therefore, it is important to keep your devices secure by enabling device passcodes, Touch ID, or Face ID. This will help prevent unauthorized access to your Passkeys.
  3. Use Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): Enabling two-factor authentication for your Google account can add an extra layer of security to your Passkeys. With 2FA enabled, you will be required to enter a code in addition to your Passkey when signing in to your Google account.
  4. Regularly Update and Monitor Passkeys: It is important to regularly update and monitor your Passkeys for security. This includes periodically changing your Google master password and reviewing your Passkeys to ensure that they are still valid and necessary.
  5. Be Wary of Phishing Attempts: While Google Passkeys are resistant to phishing attempts, it is still important to be vigilant and avoid clicking on suspicious links or entering your Passkeys on untrusted websites or apps.

By following these security considerations and best practices, users can help ensure the security and effectiveness of their Google Passkeys.

Backup and Recovery Options for Google Passkeys

As with any security method, it's important to have a backup and recovery plan in case of Passkey loss or unauthorized access. Here are some backup and recovery options for Google Passkeys:

  1. Know Your Google Account Password: If you ever lose access to your Passkey or device, you can still sign in to your Google account using your Google account password. This is why it is important to have a strong and secure password that you can remember.
  2. Set up a Secondary Passkey: Google allows you to set up a secondary Passkey that can be used in case you lose access to your primary Passkey. To set up a secondary Passkey, go to your Google account settings and click on "Security," then "Password," and finally "Password-free sign-in." From there, you can set up a secondary Passkey to use in case of emergency.
  3. Enable Verimark™ Guard: Verimark™ Guard is a security feature that can help prevent Passkey loss or unauthorized access. It involves using a physical security key that is required to authenticate your Passkeys. This feature is available on most newer devices and can provide an additional layer of security to your Passkeys.
  4. Use Account Recovery: Google offers an account recovery process that allows you to regain access to your account if you've lost your Passkey or password. To use account recovery, go to the Google sign-in page and click on "Forgot password." From there, you can follow the on-screen instructions to recover your account.
  5. Keep a Physical Backup: If you prefer a physical backup, you can write down your Passkey and keep it in a secure location, such as a safe or lockbox. Make sure to store it securely and avoid sharing it with anyone.

By having a backup and recovery plan in place, you can ensure that you can access your Google account even if you lose your Passkey or device. Remember to keep your backup secure and up-to-date and avoid sharing your Passkey or recovery information with anyone.

Hands writing a password on Google Passkeys.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for Google Passkeys

Common questions about Google Passkeys are addressed in this section, including compatibility across devices and platforms, usage with third-party apps and services, and Passkey security compared to traditional passwords.

Q: What are the requirements for Google Passkeys?
Currently, you can create Passkeys on any compatible hardware, including laptops or desktops with Windows 10 or macOS Ventura (or later) running Chrome 109, Safari 16, or Edge 109 or later. If you're setting up a passkey on a mobile phone or tablet, it must run iOS 16 or Android 9 (or later). 

Q: Can Google Passkeys be used with third-party apps and services?
Yes, Google Passkeys can be used with any app or service that supports passwordless authentication using WebAuthn or FIDO2 standards.

Q: How are Google Passkeys more secure than traditional passwords?
Google Passkeys are more secure than traditional passwords because they are resistant to phishing attacks, always strong, and designed without shared secrets. They also use industry-standard encryption to protect user data.

Q: What should I do if I forgot my Google account password and can’t access my Google Passkeys?
On your phone or computer web browser, go to www.google.com/accounts/recovery. Follow the instructions on the screen to reset your password.

Q: Is it possible to use Google Passkeys without an internet connection?
No, Google Passkeys require an internet connection to authenticate users.

Q: How do I enable Google Passkeys on my device?
Sign in to your Google account, select the “Manage Your Google Account” icon from the upper right, navigate to the Google passkey settings and tap the Create a Passkey button or use the short http://g.co/passkeys (opens in a new window). 

Q: Can I use Google Passkeys on multiple devices?
A: Yes, you can use Google Passkeys on multiple devices, as long as each device has your Passkey set up.

Q: What happens if I lose my device with my Google Passkey set up?
A: If you lose your device with your Passkey set up, you can still sign in to your Google account using your Google account password. You can also set up a secondary Passkey or use the account recovery process to regain access to your account.

Q: Can I still use a password to sign in to my Google account?
A: Yes, you can still use a password to sign in to your Google account if you prefer. However, using a Google Passkey is a more secure and convenient way to authenticate users.

Q: Can I share my Google Passkey with someone else?
A: No, you should never share your Google Passkey with anyone, including friends or family members. If someone else knows your Passkey, they could potentially access your Google account and sensitive information.

Q: What happens if someone tries to guess my Google Passkey?
A: If someone tries to guess your Google Passkey multiple times, Google will automatically lock your account for security reasons. You can regain access to your account using the account recovery process.

Conclusion

Google Passkeys are an advanced authentication technology that emphasizes security, convenience, and dependability. By eliminating the need for traditional passwords, Google Passkeys provide a more efficient and user-friendly authentication experience. However, to fully utilize this technology, it is crucial to comprehend how to set up and use Passkeys while implementing the best security practices to prevent unauthorized access. By following these measures and ensuring that Passkeys are regularly monitored, users can take advantage of the complete benefits of this innovative authentication method while also protecting their sensitive information and data. In summary, Google Passkeys represent a significant progression in authentication technology, and their use by both individuals and businesses is expected to continue to increase in the foreseeable future.

Kensington® offers a line of world-class biometric security products that provide substantially higher assurance for security-conscience consumers and enterprise customers. Products, such as Verimark™ Guard, can provide an additional layer of security and help prevent Passkey loss or unauthorized access.  If you are ready to secure your IT infrastructure but are unsure of the best way to protect your data, our team is here to help.  

Learn more about Kensington’s Biometric Security Solutions.