Security

Google Updates the Lineup of the Titan Security Keys With NFC Replacing Bluetooth

By Bill Toulas / August 10, 2021

Google has announced the “simplification” of its Titan Security Keys lineup on the Store, now offering NFC (near field communication) instead of Bluetooth, as well as USB-A and USB-C versions. NFC is considered more secure than Bluetooth because of its smaller range, so people can feel safer using it in crowded places. Moreover, NFC is less prone to signal interference, and it’s compatible with mobile devices, so people can now use the Titan keys by simply tapping them on the back of their smartphones to log into their accounts.

The Bluetooth Titan keys had already caused Google trouble as they were found to carry a dangerous flaw, allowing an attacker in range (10 meters / 30 feet) to authenticate to the victim's account. This was discovered back in 2019, and owners of the vulnerable devices were offered a free replacement by the company. Even though the upgrade from T1 to T2 chips made the situation a lot safer, Google had to eventually phase out Bluetooth altogether.

All in all, this was a modernizing and security-boosting move. Google says the new Titan keys will be made available for purchase starting from today, but you may still see Bluetooth versions on the Store depending on your region. These should be phased out soon, though, leaving NFC as the only option. Those who already hold and use Bluetooth Titan keys will continue to enjoy Google’s support and the applicable warranties. As for the price, the USB-A NFC costs $30, while the USB-C NFC retails for $35. That’s $10 more than the older Bluetooth version.

Titan security keys are a kind of a physical 2FA (two-factor authentication) tool, providing strong account protection by keeping an encrypted pass inside their chip, unlocking the login step of an account only when inserted into the device or brought in near proximity (NFC). Moreover, replicating the chip inside these keys or extracting the secret pass stored in them is generally considered impossible. As such, phishing actors and hackers, in general, cannot possibly take over accounts that are protected with Titan keys unless they get to steal them.



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