Will passwords become a thing of the past? If Google has its way, yes. Google announced in May 2023 that you can now log in to your Google account using a password. It offers a level of security that is unmatched even by two-factor authentication (2FA). If Google adopts the technology, will other apps and services do the same? Here’s to hoping.
But how do you set one up for your Google account on your Android device? And what exactly is a password? Let’s start at the beginning.
What are access keys?
Passkeys are a secure alternative to passwords. Think of a password as a set of two extremely long passwords that are immune to brute force hacking attacks as of May 2023. Half of the set resides locally on a device (usually on a mobile device, in our case an Android phone). The other half lives on the servers of a service (in this example, Google).
Only the access keys are meaningless. But when the two come together, form the access key, and authenticate the user upon unlocking the access key (usually via a PIN or biometrics on a mobile device), they perform a function, such as unlocking an account.
Why are passwords more secure than traditional passwords?
For starters, you don’t need to remember or create any new, advanced passwords. That’s not exactly a revelation to those who regularly use a password manager. But that comes at the risk of having your passwords and essential credentials all stored in one place. In the event that the day comes when your password manager is hacked, your entire digital life may be exposed.
With a password, that risk goes out the window. That will obviously change as the bad guys develop new tools and methods over time. But for now, let’s appreciate the fact that passkey technology provides an unparalleled security solution when we need it most.
Set and use a password with your Google account
It’s easy to set up your Google account to work with passkeys. You just need to log in first.
- Open your favorite web browser on your Android device.
- Visit the Google Passkeys page.
- Enter your Google account credentials.
- Tap when prompted Yes to confirm that you are trying to sign in to your Google account.
Can’t find a particular Android device?
Pay particular attention to how passkeys are already created on the Android devices where your Google account is signed in. Can’t find a device? Here’s a way to investigate what’s going on.
- Crane Manage devices below the Automatically generated access keys column.
- Find the X sessions on Android device(s) column.
- Scroll down for a chronological list of Android devices you’ve used to sign in with your Google account.
- Find your device in the list (it may have a “yellow alert icon”).
As you can see, a few of my devices didn’t show up. Probably because they have been inactive for more than 100 days. Find the device and sign in again.
Set up and use passkeys
Now let’s set up and use our Google password. Go back to the Keys page, then:
- Crane Use passwords.
- In the Create a password for your Google account screen, select Get on (or choose Use another device to set a password on another device).
- Read the You can now use your access codes to log in prompt and tap Finished.
Now log into your Google account on another device. For this exercise, I logged into my Google account through my Windows PC. Please note that you only need to go through this process once when you first sign in to your Google account using a password.
- below Use your password to confirm it’s really youselect Get on.
- To elect Use a phone or tablet to display a QR code.
- Open the Camera app on your Android device.
- Point the camera at the QR code on the screen of the device you want to connect to.
- Crane Use an access code.
- Crane AllowThan Allow again.
- Use your device’s biometrics (such as your fingerprint) to sign in to your Google account on another device.
- Crane Get on if you also want to create a password for that specific device.
Congratulations! Now you can log into your Google account using the biometrics, PIN, or whatever method you use to log into your Android phone.
Stay careful with your online security
Passkeys are an extra layer of security that gives you and me an advantage over the bad guys. Given the years of fear and paranoia endured by security breach news, we’ve earned it. But don’t get complacent.
We’ve seen this song and dance before. There comes a new technology that claims to be unbreakable until it isn’t. Prepare for that day by continuing to use online practices to keep you and your loved ones safe.