Have you ever received an email from Google warning you that your account has been compromised? Chances are you have. According to research, Google and Gmail accounts are one of the most targeted by hackers and the attacks have increased by 50% in the past few years. Though the company has invested heavily in ensuring that their users are protected, you’re not totally safe and you need to take steps to secure your accounts properly. Here are some ways you can secure your Google and Gmail accounts from hackers.
Keep your browser security up to date
Keeping your browser up to date ensures that you’re protected by the latest security updates. There are hundreds of software engineers who work to keep your browsers safe from cyberattacks. Software updates usually come out every two weeks and updates happen automatically when you close and open your browser. If you haven’t closed your browser in a while, you should look at the More icon on the top right corner which should be either yellow or red if there’s a pending update. If it is, simply close and open your browser for an update.
This is the first step in ensuring that your Google and Gmail accounts are secure from hackers. However, many of us tend to take it for granted. Hackers use various methods to gain access to accounts with weak passwords such as dictionary attacks and social engineering. Therefore, your password shouldn’t contain words that are easily guessable or your personal information. A strong password can be 20 or more random characters or random words grouped to make it less predictable. Some tools can help berate random passwords for you such as Avast and LastPass. Some good examples of strong passwords include kQex2o87p7qyDJ, 8c5f432v5jETzfn and TRaBAuP61HF2PR. Additionally, you should change your password every 90 days.
Take Google’s account security checkup
This checkup takes you several steps that ensure your accounts have the best all-round protection. It includes safe browsing, recent security activity, account recovery options and sensitive settings. You can access it by going to your account page and selecting Manage your Google account. You will see a box displaying details about your account security. Depending on your account’s security, you will see a green shield with a check mark indicating you your account is protected and there’s no need to take further action. If you see a message saying “security issues found”, you need to select Secure account and follow the recommended steps.
Add a secondary authentication
Activating the 2-step verification on your Google accounts is essential to web security as it reduces the risks associated with compromised passwords. It adds an extra layer of security by asking users to enter a secret code after entering their password. You can activate 2-step verification for your Google and Gmail accounts by selecting “How you sign in to Google” on the security tab and selecting 2-Step Verification. Digital Safety: The Best Authentication Tools For Your Social Media Accounts
Check your “Trusted Devices” on Gmail
Getting a thumbs up from Google doesn’t automatically mean that your accounts are secure. You may still need to make more adjustments. For instance, you need to check whether you recognize all the devices under the “Trusted Devices” section. These devices have access to your accounts so they need to be monitored, especially if you open your accounts on different devices. Additionally, if your devices are stolen or forgot to log out of a device, you should go to this section and log of out your Google and Gmail accounts.
Review 3rd party access to your accounts
Many websites and apps require access to your Gmail account which can make you vulnerable to hackers since some of these websites and apps don’t have strong security protections. You may have allowed such websites and apps access to your accounts and forgotten about it. To ensure that your accounts are not exposed, you should review third-party access on the security page of your Google account. Once you identify the apps and websites that you want to revoke access, click on them and select Remove Access.
Check your Gmail login activity
Finally, you need to vigilantly monitor your login activities. Google allows you to see the last 10 logins to your Gmail accounts along with complete details such as IP address, location, device and access time. This information can let you know if your account has been accessed by a device you don’t know. To access your Gmail login activity, open your account on a computer, then click on Details in the extreme bottom right. You can also check your accounts’ activities on the “My Activity” tab. Go to your Profile icon, select Google Account, then Manage your Google Account. Tap on Data & privacy, then select History Settings and click on the My Activity button.
Avoid downloading suspicious apps or attachments
Hackers can use malware to enter your system and gain access to your emails. Such malware are usually disguised as legitimate apps and attachments but contain hacking software. To avoid exposing your data, install comprehensive security software on your devices and avoid downloading or clicking on suspicious links.
Public WiFis are a hacker’s playground since they can easily position themselves between you and the connection point, which is known as a man-in-the-middle attack. Once they gain access to your device, it’s easy for the hacker to slip malware on your device without you even knowing. The best way to protect your information from hackers is to avoid using public WiFi. However, if you have to, avoid accessing sensitive information and only browse websites that have an SSL certificate.
Bonus. Also, ensure you log out after using a computer in the cyber or borrow a computer.
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