Google will block embedded browser log-ins to fight phishing

Embedded browser log-ins are prone to man-in-the-middle attacks, after all.

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Mariella Moon
April 19th, 2019
In this article: gear, google, internet, log-ins, mobile

Embedded browsers within apps can be useful if you want to use an existing account from another service -- say, your Gmail log-in -- to access their features. However, they're also really easy to weaponize for man-in-the-middle types of phishing attacks. Since Google can't differentiate between a legitimate log-in and a phishing attempt through a browser from within an application, it's blocking sign-ins from all embedded browser frameworks starting in June.

Bad actors can exploit embedded browsers, such as Chromium Embedded Framework, by intercepting communications between the user and providers like Google. The method gives them a way to steal log-in credentials, sometimes even multi-factor authentication details, in real time. Google has been implementing more security measures around log-ins in recent months in an effort to protect users' details. In late 2018, for instance, it launched a risk-assessment feature that requires JavaScript to be able to sign into your account.

In the near future, you'll find yourself getting switched to Chrome, Safari, Firefox or other mobile browsers when you have to sign in to access an application. The tech giant is advising developers to switch to browser-based OAuth authentication, which shows the URL of the page you're on and could, in turn, help you avoid phishing attacks.

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