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Google to Ban Less Secure Apps in G Suite

Google this week announced plans to turn off access to G Suite account data for less secure apps (LSAs), as they represent a potential security risk for users.

Google this week announced plans to turn off access to G Suite account data for less secure apps (LSAs), as they represent a potential security risk for users.

LSAs are non-Google apps that have been granted access to Google accounts, but which only employ a username and password for login. Thus, they make accounts more vulnerable to hijacking attempts, unlike apps that support OAuth, the Internet giant says.

Thus, the company is moving toward preventing LSAs from accessing G Suite account data, which is expected to impact users of legacy email, calendar, and contacts apps.

First, Google will prevent users who are trying to connect for the first time to an LSA from doing so. This will happen on June 15, 2020 and will impact third-party apps that allow password-only access to Google calendars, contacts, and email via CalDAV, CardDAV and IMAP.

However, users who have connected to an LSA prior to this date will still have the possibility to use them until access to all LSAs is turned off.

On February 15, 2021, however, access to LSAs will be turned off for all G Suite accounts, Google announced.

Many people provide non-Google apps with the permission to access G Suite data, but the issue emerges when LSAs are used, because only a username and password are required for login, without an additional authentication factor, which puts accounts at risk.

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“If a bad actor got access to your username and password (for example, if you re-use the password on another site that is subject to a data breach), they could access your account data with just that username and password information through an LSA,” Google says.

When OAuth is used for access, additional information on the login is available for validation purposes, and Google can detect suspicious login attempts and prevent access even if the attacker knows the username and password.

“OAuth also helps us enforce G Suite admin defined login policies, such as the use of security keys, as well as other security controls such as whitelisting apps and offering scope-based account access,” Google also explains.

The decision to remove LSA access by February 15, 2021 should improve the overall security of G Suite accounts, especially since there are many alternative apps and processes available that do use OAuth, the Internet giant notes.

Google also sent out emails to organizations’ primary admins to inform them of the upcoming change. The emails also include a list of users likely to be affected.

Related: Google Releases Beta of Anomaly Detection for G Suite Customers

Related: Google Warns G Suite Customers of Passwords Stored Unhashed Since 2005

Written By

Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

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