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Google to Revoke OAuth 2.0 Tokens Upon Password Reset

A new OAuth 2.0 token revocation rule will soon cause third-party mail apps to stop syncing data upon user password change, Google revealed on Wednesday.

A new OAuth 2.0 token revocation rule will soon cause third-party mail apps to stop syncing data upon user password change, Google revealed on Wednesday.

This update to Google’s security policy was announced last year, but the company decided not to move forward with it for its Apps customers. However, after tweaking the rule to make it more admin-friendly, Google has finally decided to roll out the change starting on Oct. 5.

Google introduced OAuth 2.0 in September 2012 to boost the security of Gmail and Google Talk services, when it announced that the feature would be offering access to Google’s two-factor authentication features as well.

Although initially planned for a wider set of applications, the OAuth 2.0 token revocation rule will be limited to mail scopes only at launch, to “achieve the security benefits of this policy change with minimal admin confusion and end-user disruption,” Google says. App Script tokens and apps installed via the Google Apps Marketplace are not subject to the token revocation, the company said.

As soon as the planned change is in effect, however, third-party mail applications that include at least one mail scope will no longer sync data when the user password is reset. Data syncing will recommence as soon as a new OAuth 2.0 token has been granted (when the user re-authorizes with their Google account username and password).

The new policy change will affect mobile mail applications as well, Google says. This means that the owners of iOS devices who use the mail application that Apple included in the platform will have to re-authorize it with their Google account credentials when they change their password. The Gmail apps on both iOS and Android already require re-authorization upon password reset, and Google decided to enforce the security policy to third-party apps as well.

The change will take effect on October 5, 2016, when it will launch to both Rapid and Scheduled releases. Google has already published a Help Center article and FAQ to offer additional information on the change. The company also notes that it will communicate in advance when additional scopes will be added to the policy.

“Please note that password changes alone should not be relied upon for account security. If you suspect an account may be compromised, use the checklist in the Help Center to ensure that your users’ accounts are secure,” the company also says.

Related: Gmail Flags Unauthenticated Messages, Dangerous URLs

Related: Google Enhances Security Alerts in Gmail

Written By

Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

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