Google has auto enrolled more than 150 million users in 2-step verification after announcing the effort last year, noting in a release that the action has caused "the number of accounts hijacked by password theft decrease by 50%."
The initiative also involved requiring 2 million YouTube users to enable it.
"This decrease speaks volumes to how effective having a second form of verification can be in protecting your data and personal information. And while we're proud of these initial results and happy with the response we have received from our users and the community, we're excited about other ongoing work we're doing behind the scenes," Google Chrome safety director Guemmy Kim said.
"Today alone, billions of people around the world will use our products to help with things big and small -- whether it's paying for coffee with Google Pay or teaching an online class full of students -- and it's our responsibility to keep your personal information safe and secure. We know that your Gmail is often the link to accessing your non-Google accounts for banking, social media, shopping and more. That's why the security of Gmail is fundamental to our work to keep you safe online. By making all of our products secure by default, we keep more users safe than anyone else in the world -- blocking malware, phishing attempts, spam messages, and potential cyberattacks."
A Google spokesperson added that the company has delivered other solutions that are "secure by default" and helped lead the way in introducing "advanced authentication methods like security keys that enable a simple, more secure sign-in experience for users."
"These solutions include the Advanced Protection Program, which protects high-risk users such as journalists, celebrities and other public figures, 37% of whom have had their accounts hacked in the last year, according to a recent Google/YouGov poll," the spokesperson added.
Google said last year that it would offer additional protection for "over 10,000 high-risk users" through a partnership with organizations that will see them provide free security keys.
Kim explained that security keys are another form of verification that requires you to plug in and tap your key simply. The company has built security keys into Android phones and the Google Smart Lock app on Apple devices. More than two billion devices now use the technology.
Google, Kim added, is ultimately trying to reduce user reliance on passwords because of how often passwords are involved in data breaches and phishing attempts.
Kim noted that Google has additionally created a "security checkup" tool that gives you personalized recommendations on things you can do to beef up the security around your Google Account and prepare your account for recovery.
They also urge other users to sign up for 2-step verification if they haven't already and to use Google Password Manager.
Google announced in October 2021 that it planned to get 150 million people auto enrolled in 2-step verification by the end of the year.