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How often have you been on a website and seen the option to log in with Google or another company? What does it mean to log in with Google?

A little bit about logging in

Logging into a website is the first line of security. Logging in usually requires a user name and a password. These are called your login credentials. The user name might be in the form of an email address. Password rules vary by company but a common set of requirements is 8 – 12 characters a mixture of:

  • lower case letters
  • upper case letters
  • numbers
  • special characters (*&^%$#)@

It is best practice not to reuse the same password on multiple websites. If a data breach reveals your username and password combination from one site, it is easy for hackers to try that combination on other sites. If you used the same username and password on multiple sites, they are able to get into your accounts.

What does log in with Google mean?

Sometimes when you log in to a website, you see options like this. This site allows log in using your credentials from an unrelated companies. This means that you don’t need to set up or use a separate username and password for this website, you can use the username and password from another site that you may be able to remember better.

Google, Facebook or Apple provides the receiving website with your information so that you don’t need to fill it in yourself. The may also provide additional information about you.

Why would a company provide this facility to you?

  • For the company like Spotify here, they can get more people to log in because they are making it easier
  • They can also receive profile information about you from the other organization
  • Google gains information about you and your habits while you use a website that has nothing to do with their site
  • For the user, it is easier to have less passwords to remember
  • Users might feel safer not giving their information to another company

How to decide?

Not all companies are equal. Google and Facebook’s income is mostly from selling advertising. Giving them additional information about you and your habits allows them to create a fuller view of how to sell ads that will be presented to you. Apple’s business model does not include selling ads to third parties. Using your Apple ID credentials to log into sites will give Apple a fuller view of your habits, but it will not be used to sell ads that will be presented to you. In addition, Apple has added security to this type of log in that goes beyond what is provided by other services.

There is no right or wrong answer about whether to sign in to a website this way. It is important thing to understand what you are doing, and make the decision accordingly. The tradeoff is ease of use versus the privacy of your data. Be aware that you are relying on both sides of this equation to be safe. If one company gets hacked, the other company’s log in is exposed too. For a little more information about what it means to log in with Google, try this article at Komodo.

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