Google Upgrades Security Controls for G Suite Customers

The updates provide enterprise-grade controls for Google's range of G Suite applications that include business email, calendar, spreadsheet, storage and other applications.

Google G Suite 2

Google's efforts to convince potential business customers about the enterprise readiness of its cloud services continued this week, this time with a focus on security.

The company on Tuesday announced what it described as new enterprise-grade controls for its range of G Suite applications that include business email, calendar, spreadsheet, storage and other applications.

At a high level, the new features are designed to provide G Suite administrators with more powerful access control and data loss prevention capabilities. With this week’s update, Google has also connected its BigQuery data analytics engine to Gmail making it easier for administrators to conduct analytics and gain insight from security data.

Having better control and visibility over data is critical when protecting sensitive assets, said Reena Nadkarni, product manager of G Suite writing on Google's The Keyword blog.

"That’s why starting today, we're giving customers the critical control and visibility they expect—and their CTOs and regulators often require—in G Suite,” she said.

For instance, starting this week, administrators will have the ability to prevent users from logging in to enterprise systems and services unless they have enabled two-factor authentication via Google Security Keys. Google's Security Key is a physical device that plugs directly into a laptop or can be paired with a mobile device and acts as a second form of authentication in addition to the usual username and password.

Google introduced the technology in 2014 as a replacement for the out-of-band text messages it used to send to mobile devices to authenticate a user's identity. With this week's upgrade, administrators will finally be able to enforce use of the mechanism to boost access security.

Google has also upgraded its data leak prevention capabilities for business users of G Suite. Up to now, support for Data Loss Prevention has only been available on Gmail for Google Apps Unlimited customers. Starting this week, organizations using Google's Drive cloud file storage and synchronization service will also be able to use the technology to mitigate the risks of accidental and malicious data leaks.

G Suite's DLP features, according to Nadkarni, include optical character recognition of content stored in images so administrators can apply and enforce policies controlling how that data is used and shared.

As part of its new controls for protecting data in the cloud, Google this week also introduced an option that administrators can use to ensure that enterprise emails are securely encrypted not only on Google's email service, but on email services from other service providers as well.

Meanwhile, a new preconfigured integration between Gmail logs and BigQuery will make it easier for organizations to analyze Gmail logs for potential performance and security issues. The integration will allow administrators to run sophisticated custom queries against their log data, analyze it and build custom dashboards, Nadkarni said.

As part of its tweaks to the Gmail service for business, Google has introduced new support for third-party email archiving as well. The feature is designed to help organizations archive their Gmail content in third-party archiving platforms like those from Veritas and HP Autonomy if they want to.

Jaikumar Vijayan

Jaikumar Vijayan

Vijayan is an award-winning independent journalist and tech content creation specialist covering data security and privacy, business intelligence, big data and data analytics.