"We took this unusual step because there is an overlooked minority of our users that are at particularly high risk of targeted online attacks," Dario Salice, the Advanced Protection product manager for Google wrote in a company blog post. "Sometimes even the most careful and security-minded users are successfully attacked through phishing scams, especially if those phishing scams were individually targeted at the user in question."
The new setting makes it harder for hackers to access sensitive data on Google platforms like Gmail, Google Drive, and YouTube. The opt-in system is intended for high-risk users like politicians, wealthy individuals, activists, and journalists.
"This is basically an extremely heavy-duty way of locking down an account," Joseph Lorenzo Hall, the chief technologist for the Center for Democracy and Technology, told Wired. "Even for people with very limited technology chops, this is a way for them to have an extremely protected profile."
This new system comes after several hacking attacks targeted the Gmail accounts of prominent individuals. Most notable was the attacked on the Gmail of John Podesta, the campaign manager of Hillary Clinton. His messages were released via WikiLeaks and had massive political ramifications during the 2016 election.