Google has acquired SlickLogin, a software startup that develops sound-based login authentication technology designed to ease the process of logging in securely.
The Israeli company, which had not released its technology to the public, announced the news on its homepage. "Google was the first company to offer two-step verification to everyone, for free – and they're working on some great ideas that will make the internet safer for everyone. We couldn't be more excited to join their efforts," the statement said.
SlickLogin's technology allows the presence of a designated mobile device to confirm the identity of a user logging in to a website or service, similar to some two-step authentication methods that use a confirmation code sent via text message to a mobile phone.
One method sees the device in question play a unique, high-pitched audio signal which is then picked up by the computer's microphone, confirming its – and the account holder's – presence. Other patent-pending technology held by the company includes authentication methods based on GPS, WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC and QR codes. These would give web services using SlickLogin's technology, such as online banking sites, multiple ways to verify that the person logging in is the account holder.
The technology would have also been of use to businesses looking to secure their own networks by ensuring employees can only log in when they have their company-issued smartphone or are in a specific geographic location.
The details of the buy were not disclosed, and Google has not stated how it plans to use its new purchase, although the potential opportunities for its Apps products as well as its free web services are significant.
Google has had a busy year of mergers so far. SlickLogin is Google's second purchase of a security company in 2014: in January it bought spam and fraud-prevention firm Impermium. In its biggest buy of the year so far, Google purchased connected home company Nest for $3.2bn. Finally, at the end of January it sold its loss-making handset division Motorola Mobility to Chinese firm Lenovo.
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