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Google experiments with new QR-based secure login

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A QR-code based authentication method for logging into Gmail was found yesterday. The feature has since been pulled and a Googler said on Google+ that it was merely an experiment, which has since ended.

Google QR Code login
Google QR Code login

We all know Google loves its experiments: there's everything from the X laboratory to Wave, and now it looks like another one has seen the light of day. A few people found a new QR-code based account authentication tool yesterday that's made to help you securely login when you're at a public computer. If you're afraid that a keylogger installed on a public machine is going to grab your password when you try and check your Gmail, this experiment is for you. The idea is that you are given a QR code on the desktop which takes you to a login page on your smartphone once you scan it. Then, after you sign in on your phone you'll be automatically forwarded to your Gmail or iGoogle page on the public computer. Of course, if you grab a fake QR code from a site posing as Google, you'll be giving your login info to someone who shouldn't have it.

After the feature spread around the internet a bit yesterday, Googler Dirk Balfanz took to Google+ to say that the login method was experimental, and later on the site that enabled the QR login was pulled and replaced with a message saying that the experiment has concluded. Balfanz promises in his post that "we're working on something that I believe is even better," so it looks like for now you'll have to make due with Google's excellent two-step authentication which uses your Android phone and a random code to securely log you in.

Thanks, Thomas!