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Strong authentication to protect business user accounts

Posted by Rishi Dhand, Product Manager, Google Apps

Editors note: This post is part of a series that explores the top ten reasons why customers trust Google with their business data. A complete top ten list can be found here.

We recently announced that more than 4 million businesses run on Google Apps and 5,000 more are signing up every day. Many of these business “go Google” for enhanced security features. One example is 2-step verification, an opt-in security feature that we added to Google Apps last year.

2-step verification adds an additional layer of protection to your account and significantly reduces the risk of unauthorized access. With 2-step verification, you sign into your account with both your password and a one time verification code you get on your phone. You can generate the code with a mobile app (on Android, iPhone and Blackberry), or get it in an SMS text message or a voice call.

This feature helps ensure that only you can sign in to your account. It also helps protect you if your password gets stolen via phishing attempts, keyloggers or other malicious software, or from another website where you might have used the same password. Without the verification code, hackers can’t access your Google Apps account—even if they have your password.

While two-factor authentication is not a new concept, many businesses have historically struggled with deploying it due to cost, IT complexity and usability issues associated with requiring users to carry separate token generators. Google Apps includes 2-step verification at no additional cost, using existing phones to make it simple and easy to deploy. It’s available in over 40 languages and in more than 150 countries.

We also support Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML)-based Single Sign-On (SSO) for businesses that already use separate authentication technologies and would like to continue using them. Google Apps for Business supports the SAML 2.0 specification and allows businesses to apply custom security features, password management policies, and their own two-factor authentication solution. This SSO capability is an alternative to the 2-step verification feature that is included with Google Apps.

Protecting your accounts with strong authentication mechanisms is a great way to help ensure your information remains safe online. Thousands of If you are an existing customer, you can easily configure 2-step verification, once your administrator has enabled the feature for your domain.