How To: Managing Your Google and Gmail Security

If you use Gmail you probably store a lot of important personal information in your account, such as photos, files, and calendar information. This article discusses the ways in which your account could be comprised, and lists some steps that you can take to help protect your account.

Hacker Methods

Hackers can get access to your account if you don’t take advantage of important security rules.

Below are some common ways that hackers are able to access your account:

Using the same password on more than one account: You use your Gmail username and password to sign in to another account. If that site is hacked and your information stolen, the hacker now has access to all of your Gmail information.

Phishing: Phishing is a scheme in which a hacker sends you an email that directs you to a fake website that looks legitimate, such as a fake commerce or banking website. After you enter your account login information on this fake website, the hacker steals it and uses it to access your account.

Malware: Malware is infected software designed to steal your passwords as you type, or this software accesses them from your browser’s cache.

Brute Force: You use a username and/or password that’s easy to guess like your first name and birth year. A hacker tries a bunch of different possible combinations until they guess right. So don’t use something like your name, your children’s names, or place of birth, or anything else that is easy to guess.

How to Protect Your Google Account

The easiest and best thing to do is to choose unique passwords for your most sensitive accounts (email, financial, and social media), since these accounts hold a lot of personal information.

The following is a list of other things you can do to protect your Google security:

Don’t reuse passwords and change them often: Never reuse passwords for any of your important online accounts and change your passwords often, at least once ever six months. If you suspect one of your accounts may have been compromised or are at risk, change them immediately.

Don’t give out your Gmail login information: Never respond to anyone who you don’t know asking for your Google username or password. If you believe you have received a phishing email, you can report it by doing the following:

  1. From Gmail, click the down arrow next to Reply at the top-right of the message pane for the message you want to report.
  2. Select Report Phishing.

If you responded and can no longer access your account, go to the Google Account Recovery page:

Use the Advanced Sign-In Security: Google’s two step verification process requires your password, plus a code received via text message on your phone. This makes access to your Google account much more secure. To sign up for advanced sign-in security, do the following:

  1. Click your name or picture in the upper right corner of the screen and then click My Account.
  2. At the top, click Sign in & security.
  3. Click the arrow next to 2-Step Verification.
  4. Go through the setup process.
  5. Review your settings and add backup phone numbers.