Several days ago, Google released a handful of videos discussing its “Advanced Protection Program” which just advises people to purchase and use Yubico security keys as a means of physical two-step authentication when logging into their accounts. But as it turns out, the Pixelbook’s power button can be used as a Universal 2nd Factor (U2F) security key.
Update: After publishing, I was informed that this now works on the latest stable build of Chrome OS. I have verified this on my personal Pixelbook. The steps are still the same and I still recommend setting up multiple forms of two-step authentification just in case something happens to your Chromebook.
First detailed on Medium by Lukas Karlsson, having the ability to use the Pixelbook’s power button as a U2F security key alleviates the need to continuously plug in a Yubico key to sign into your accounts.
At the moment, the option to enable the U2F functionality on the Pixelbook is
limited to the Dev channel available for all Chrome OS channels. After switching to that channel (full tutorial here), open up a Chrome Shell (Ctrl + Alt + T) and run the u2f_flags g2f command. With that complete, a virtual U2F token will be set to the Pixelbook’s power button.
As Chromebooks can be buggy while running the Beta or Dev Channels, I would recommend setting up a separate U2F key first just in case you end up having to wipe your computer. Using the Pixelbook’s power button would be better as a second two-factor authentification key, that way you don’t get locked out of your accounts.
Some have tested this out on different Chromebooks like the Asus Chromebook Flip, HP Chromebook X2, and the Samsung Chromebook Plus, but had no luck in getting it to work. With Google putting in the work to make it functional on the Pixelbook, it could potentially come to future Chromebooks and other devices.
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