Google examines why a company connects VPN adverts to two-factor SMS code

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Earlier this week, Australian developer Chris Lacy tweeted a curiosity when logging into an unusual Google account. When Google sent its two-factor authentication code, the message appeared together with an ad that includes a link to the VPN services. In view of the drawbacks of a phishing or virus distribution tied to a code designed to secure your account, this did not go well.

Although Lacy did not specify the carrier that delivered the text, Mark Risher, senior director of Google Identity and Security, explained that the ad did not come from his business.

The official comment from Google in this regard is that “These are not our advertising, and currently we are working with the wireless provider to investigate why this happened.” The Messages app on Android does not show a preview, but it is less than an ideal two-factor authentication method.

9to5Google notes that Google employs Verified SMS to authenticate and secure messages at least in certain countries, but it’s not clear whether that would be available here. I never saw spam related to text verification, but until the RCS and end-to-end encryption are common, this is simply one more reason for choosing code generators, hardware keys or push login security notifications instead of text.

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