- Google will now use Apple’s “Secure Enclave” to help users authenticate themselves for Google Accounts.
- The authentication process takes place via Bluetooth connectivity and the Google Chrome web browser.
- It took Google a while to add support for the competitor’s devices, but they eventually did it.
Google has decided that it’s time to embrace the “Secure Enclave” that beats inside iPhone processors, helping the user authenticate in various platforms. This means those iPhone devices will now be compatible with the two-factor authentication process which concerns Google Accounts, enabling Apple’s customers to securely login to their account through the Chrome browser. This has been possible for Android users since April 2019, when Google announced that all devices running Nougat or later could be used as physical 2SV (two-step verification) security keys. Naturally, it took Google a little while longer to add support for iPhones, but they eventually did it through an update on the Google Smart Lock app.
The Secure Enclave is the equivalent of the Qualcomm Secure Execution Environment (QSEE) that is commonly used in Android phones. It’s the host of a microkernel that boot separately from the rest of the device, and independently of the other CPU components. What is does is to generate an encryption key that is linked with the user ID, and which is isolated from any other CPU process. It is the component responsible for storing Face ID biometric data, passwords, and ephemeral encryption keys. The purpose of the Secure Enclave is to help secure user authentication, exactly like the QSEE does on Android. This means that it’s way more secure than SMS authentication and better than common “authenticator applications”.
The only prerequisite for using your iPhone as a 2SV key for your Google Account would be to link your device with the computer via Bluetooth and use the Chrome browser to login to the account. Of course, entering the password is still required, as the phone will only serve as the confirmation of the user authentication. This frees iPhone users from having to rely on the insecure SMS-based 2FA, which has been breached by SIM-swapping actors many times in recent months.
Apple and Google may be competitors, as iOS and Android are fighting over the same market pie. However, both are trying to infiltrate the ecosystem of the other and to provide uncompromised services to those who prefer using products from the opposite camp. This piece of news proves exactly this intention, and it is to the benefit of iPhone users. Finally, this category of users will be able to enjoy maximum Google Account authentication security without having to use a spare Android device or an actual 2SV security key.