Google users say two-factor authentication didn’t protect them. Hashtag Trending for Monday, April 15th

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Early Saturday morning listeners may have missed my weekend interview segment with Senator Colin Deacon. If you did, it was totally my fault. A typo in my posting instructions meant we didn’t get it online til late Saturday morning. But if you didn’t get a chance to listen, it’s still there, and it’s really worthwhile.

Google Enhances Browser Security with AI and announces a New Paid ‘Premium’ Version, Google users report account lock outs that beat their two-factor authentication. Google Blocks California News Access Amid Fight Over a Journalism Payment Bill and Gen Z Ditching Google for TikTok and YouTube Searches**

All this and more on the “too much Google” edition of Hashtag Trending. I’m your host, Jim Love. Let’s get into it.


Before we start, I have to say, I didn’t set out to write an all Google edition, maybe it’s because of Google’s major event last week, but when I evaluated the tech stories over the weekend, these hit the top of the pile.

Google is rolling out major new security enhancements for its hugely popular Chrome web browser used by billions worldwide.

At its Cloud Next conference last week, the tech giant revealed it has developed custom artificial intelligence language models specifically trained to detect and block spam, phishing and other malicious content targeting Gmail users.

Deployed late last year, Google says these AI defenses are already yielding big results – catching 20% more spam in Gmail, reviewing 1,000% more reported spam each day, and responding 90% faster to new phishing threats in Google Drive.

The company says the AI models are uniquely adept at identifying semantically similar malicious content at a massive scale across over 3 billion Google Workspace users.

While highly effective so far, Google admits it is “very focused” on innovating further to tackle the remaining 0.1% of spam and malware that slips through its advanced filters.

In a separate move, Google is introducing a new premium version of its Chrome web browser specifically geared towards enterprise user

Called Chrome Enterprise Premium, the paid tier adds enhanced data loss prevention controls as well as deep malware scanning missing from the existing free Chrome browser.

While the core free version will continue receiving general malware and anti-phishing protections, the premium edition aims to provide businesses with an extra level of security and administrative features.

This new AI-powered data protection will cost $10 per user per month on top of existing Workspace subscriptions.

The launch comes as Google also explores giving all Chrome users more control over limiting website permissions like access to keyboard, mouse and other device inputs.

Sources include:  Android Police and Forbes

The need was never greater – another story in Forbes this week reported that a number of users were reporting that their two factor authentication had been by-passed giving away access to the their Google accounts.

How do they do this? Apparently they don’t hack the two factor authentication process itself, but the employ something called “session cookie hijacking”

The technique typically starts with a phishing email delivering malware designed to capture the authentication cookies that allow users to seamlessly resume active sessions on sites like Gmail.

If attackers manage to steal these session cookies after a user has logged in, they can then replay the cookies to impersonate the legitimate user – tricking the service into letting them bypass any further 2FA prompts.

As far as Google’s systems are concerned, the attacker has already successfully authenticated using the hijacked cookie data.

Once they gain access to the account, the hackers can lock the real owner out of the account.

These attacks are reported to start with phishing lures, most notably crypto get rich schemes. But the attacks can also potentially leverage vulnerabilities that expose session cookies or allow session hijacking on unpatched systems.

Security experts warn session hijacking remains a critical risk capable of undermining popular multi-factor authentication protections relied on by billions.

Remedies include more widespread use of hardware 2FA security keys, as well as shorter lifespans for session cookies to reduce hijacking windows.

Major providers are also working on other mitigations, but users remain advised to stay vigilant against phishing and keep software patched to prevent falling victim to these attacks subverting account two factor authentication.

Sources include: Forbes

And can you stand one more Google story?

In a battle that will seem eerily familiar to our Canadian listeners, Google is now wrangling with. California lawmakers. Google has started restricting access to news articles from the state for some users in a hardball tactic against a proposed law that would force tech companies to pay publishers for content.

The move comes as the California Journalism Preservation Act, which cleared the state assembly last year, is being revived. The bill would require digital giants like Google and Meta to compensate news outlets when their articles and links get displayed on the tech platforms.

In a blog post, Google executive Jafar Zaidi said the legislation represented an “unworkable” tax on linking to news sources that has already prompted “significant changes” to services it can offer Californians.

Zaidi wrote that the company has temporarily blocked news from appearing in search results for an unspecified “small percentage” of California users in anticipation of the bill potentially passing.

Google claims the proposal is the “wrong approach” to bolstering the struggling U.S. news industry, which has suffered waves of layoffs and newspaper closures amid skyrocketing digital ad revenues for big tech.

Bill supporters argue it would provide a crucial lifeline to California’s publishers, with over 100 outlets shuttering in the state over the past decade as advertising income plummeted.

The legislation aims to direct a slice of the billions in digital ad revenues captured by technology giants like Google and Meta toward compensating journalists and publishers for reusing their content.

With over 70% of digital ad dollars now going to just those two companies, advocates say they have a responsibility to support the news industry they have disrupted and profited from.

Critics, however, argue such link taxes represent an unworkable model that undermines principles of the open internet.

The aggressive move by Google mirrors past tactics deployed when facing similar pay-for-journalism rules in Canada and Australia. After initial threats to block news, the company ultimately struck deals with publishers.

As California’s bill regains momentum, the fight over compensating news outlets appears headed towards an increasingly acrimonious showdown between lawmakers and the tech giants dominating digital advertising markets.

And although Google ultimately reached a deal of sorts with Canada, Meta continues to block Canadian news stories on its platform. This story may continue for some time to come.

Sources include: Axios

It turns out while Google was top of the news last week, the giant may want to watch where it’s search engine dominance is going. There is no doubt that Chrome is the dominant browser by a country kilometre – okay, a country mile still sounds better.

But it has some threats to its dominance. We did some stories last week to show that when given a real choice, people in Europe were opting for other browsers.

And although Google is trying experiments in the UK to add AI to its search, the early reviews on that are not spectacular with reports that junk content is more likely to hit the top of search.

For others, using AI search like Perplexity.ai is proving to be far more reliable and informative than Google. But now, a generational divide is evolving.

For Gen Z, it turns out even Canadians call the GenZ, Google is no longer the default starting point when searching for information online. Instead, many young people are turning to social media platforms like TikTok and YouTube as their go-to search engines.

New data from youth research firm YPulse reveals a stark generational divide emerging. While 58% of millennials aged 25 to 39 still begin their internet queries on Google, that falls to just 46% among those aged 18 to 24.

For Gen Z, 21% are initiating searches directly on TikTok, with another 5% heading straight to YouTube – a clear break from the Google-centric behavior of older demographics.

The shift highlights how social media has evolved from just connecting with friends into a vast “information superhighway” for the first truly digital native generation.

Gen Z users cite a preference for the more relatable, authentic results surfaced through human-curated videos and posts compared to Google’s algorithms heavily featuring sponsored content.

There’s also an innate comfort and affinity with social platforms fostered by younger users having no memory of Google’s earlier era of search dominance.

The trend represents a growing headache for Google and its parent Alphabet, which derives the bulk of its nearly $2 trillion valuation from digital advertising tied to search traffic.

In response, Google has rolled out new features aimed at Gen Z, including AI tools to generate more personalized search feeds and better highlight social media conversations.

However, many remain dissatisfied with the quality of Google results plagued by excessive ads and search engine optimization tactics.

As Gen Z increasingly eschews traditional search engines, established tech giants will be forced to adapt to changing behaviors ushering in a generational shift in how information is discovered and consumed online.

Picture this – sometime in the future, somebody born in 1990 will be my age, they’ll mention some 90’s rock group, get a blank stare and say “TikTok” it.

Hey, there’s no longer a Kleenex tissue. There could be a world where search is not Google.

And that’s our show for today…

And tomorrow, I promise, unless the sky falls in with a monumental story, we’ll be Google free.

I’m your host Jim Love, have a Marvelous Monday.

The post Google users say two-factor authentication didn’t protect them. Hashtag Trending for Monday, April 15th first appeared on IT World Canada.

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