We have several reasons to use Gmail as the main communication method. It’s fast, easy to use and far than any other mail service.
Gmail is not just a mailing service for us. We store several things in our mail account- Personal info, Bank details, Business connections, Media files, Website backup etc and treating it like a cloud storage. Google does everything to protect such contents from prying eyes. But it’s not enough.
Google’s such safety precautions won’t work without your co-operation. These are the essential steps you should take to protect your Gmail account from hackers on the web.
1) Check for Viruses and Malware
Start from your computer. Check if someone installed any malware on your system to collect data including passwords. Such prying agents may come from the programs you downloaded from unrecognized sources or pirated ones. Run an antivirus scan periodically and remove suspicious programs, trojans- found if any.
2) Turn on 2 Step Authentication
Use additional security to protect your account. Activate 2 step verification from Google settings page. You should give a working mobile number to make use of this feature. After submitting login credentials, Google will send a PIN number to your mobile to verify your identity. No one can login to your account without giving this second password in the prompt screen.
If you have Google account connected Android phone, will get a prompt screen there to approve login from the computer. Click OK to verify.
Don’t have phone with you? Copy the backup codes, showing in the authentication page and save it to some safe place. It can be utilized to login in emergency situations.
You can add frequently using devices to trusted lists to avoid second password. Remove any device from the list which is you are no longer using.
3) Verify your Account Recovery Information
Check whether your account recovery information is up to date. Go to My Account page, from there click on Get Started under “Security Check-up”. Update your recovery information with your primary phone number, any other mail in use and security question.
4) Add a Delegate
Add a secondary email to your account as delegate. A delegate can send, read, delete emails and acts on behalf of your Gmail account. It can change your Gmail password or update account settings as well. Activate this option from Settings > General > Grant access to your account.
5) Check Account Permissions
Review the apps, websites connected to your Google account. Remove any unwanted or non trusted app from the list.
6) Review Your Recent Activity
Review your recent Google activity and check if any suspicious item found. Manage various activity controls including location history, YouTube search history, device information, Voice & Audio activity and YouTube watch history.
7) Lock Connected Devices
We won’t keep our home door opened when nobody there, is it ? Similarly lock your Google connected devices as long as you are not using it. Otherwise anyone can access your files and account details.
8) Review Recent Security Events
Check security alerts and related notifications of your account in last 28 days. Such notifications include change of password, adding recovery options etc. Create text message alerts to inform you if someone changes your password or on hacking attempts.
9) Use a Strong Password
Use a strong alphanumeric password for your Gmail. It should not contain your any personal information like name, date of birth, mobile number, vehicle number etc and never use it in any other site. The password should be changed at frequent intervals or at least in three months.
10) Never Deal with Spammers
A couple of months back, I got a mail from some unknown source. The mail format was similar to official Google mails and it informed me that someone tried to login into my account. In a sudden moment, anyone may treat it as Google’s security alert. I am asked to verify my account by clicking on the following link, which is directed me to login screen of Gmail. But URL was different. In such a occasion, you will be trapped if not going through the address bar. Login to websites by typing in address bar not from third party links. Next, make sure that you are using a HTTPS connection to access the site.
In the same way, you will get emails with subject “Prize won $5,00,000” or a similar one. Google will divert such emails to spam folder automatically. However, never respond to spammers or share your personal info with them. Immediately inform Google about suspicious emails by clicking on the spam button.
11) Never Share Your Password
Don’t share your password with others even though how much closer they are. Probably they may copy your backup codes or security question and can be used to access your account at a later time.
12) Use Trusted Connections
It’s better to avoid free WiFi zones to log in to Gmail account. They may not be enough secure to prevent hackers and there is a chance to steal your information by intruders.
13) Avoid Proxies
There’re hundreds of proxy servers on the web to help you in browsing. Avoid them for safety.
14) Update OS and Browser regularly
Always update your operating system and browser to the latest version. This will help you to prevent any security breaches on the web or system.
15) Use Private Mode
Use private mode of the modern browsers when accessing net from shared computers. It won’t save your data and will clear everything including browsing history, cookies as soon as you exit the browser.
If using normal mode, don’t save your password on public computers and finally, spend time to delete your all activities from the system.
16) Equip with Security Extensions
LogDog is an excellent security solution if you are browsing on mobile.
17) Final Step
We took all sufficient precautions to secure our Google account. Still then, we shouldn’t gamble with our precious online identity.
Feel free to take backup of your Gmail account. It is essential to regain your account access if something unexpected happened in future.