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Thursday, 4 December 2014

8 Ways to Better Your Gmail Security


Gmail logo by Google.

Gmail is one of the most popular email services, created by Google, which comes with a greater impression of user-friendliness, reliability and security. However, you might still be preyed on by phishers, hackers, and scammers from the Web.

Google has been working hard to forge its security offering for Gmail, but most of which we know little about. In this post I will show you the 8 essential, technical and non-technical tips that will further better your Gmail account security to improve the prevention against threat and fraud.

1. 2-Step Verification


With growing account theft issues, Google has introduced a security feature which will greatly strengthen your account: 2-Step Verification. This adds an extra layer of security by requiring a code that will be sent to your phone (every time you request for account access, making it impossible for anyone to gain access into your account without your phone).

Although the process sounds complex, the great thing about activating this is fairly easy, all you need to do is visit the setup page and follow a series of simple instructions and you are good to go. If you are facing any issues you could always visit Google's Help Page.

Google has thought of different possibilities, where you could even create a backup phone number and printable backup codes as alternatives to access your account in case you lose your phone. Also, for applications that are not verification code request ready then you can create an application-specific password for these applications.

It does sound rather tedious but it does prevent your account from being stolen and beats being blackmailed to retrieve it back!

2. Enable HTTPS Security


When accessing your Gmail account through a public wireless or a non-encrypted network having HTTPS could be vital for your security. Leaving HTTPS disabled makes it easier for someone to crack open a path into your Gmail account. HTTPS is enabled by default but there isn't any harm in making sure that your Gmail account has its HTTPS option on.

Click on the 'gear icon' > Settings > General > Browser Connection and see whether the option "Always use HTTPS" is checked, and don't forget to save changes.

3. Check Granted Account Access


To check and see if you have suspicious activities happening in your Gmail account it is likely to be in the granted account access settings. A hacker having been able to access your account would add his own fake email account into your Gmail account for easier for future session, or for a re-hacking session if his other tricks were exposed.

Click on the 'gear icon' > Accounts and Import > Grant access to your account.

Check if there are any accounts that you didn't authorize. Also, as an added assurance, make sure the option "Mark conversation as read when opened by others" to make sure that you know when your emails are being read without your prior knowledge.

4. Check Your Filter, Forwarding and POP/IMAP


Filters can potentially transfer emails as long as the victim has "the filter" in his account. Thus, it is integral that you check your Gmail account settings to delete suspicious filters. You just need to log-into your Gmail account.

Click on the 'gear icon' > Settings > Filters to check and delete any filters that were not yours.

Also check the Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab as well to confirm that there are no foreign forwarding address that isn't assigned by you.

5. Track Account Activity

Another tip to know if your account has been hacked is to know your account activity. Google has developed for Google an activity information panel for you to track your account activities.

When already signed-in to your Gmail, at the bottom portion of your email, you can see a small message saying "Last Account Activity: (number) minutes ago" > Click on the "detail" then you can see the access type, location and date

Under the panel you can also set an Alert Preference to tell Gmail when to notify you when it detects unusual activities.

6. Revoke Unauthorized Access


In Facebook there are apps which are granted access to your Facebook account, and there is also something similar in Gmail, where granted apps are able to access your Gmail account. 

You can find a list of these applications here. Click "revoke access" if you find any doubtful applications.

7. Create a Strong Password


Unless you have enabled the 2-step verification above, your password is the only guard for all your emails, contacts, and sensitive information. 

Make sure you have a strong and reliable password to ward off any potential interest to hack into your Gmail account. Here are some tips on how to build strong and reliable passwords.

Be creative! There are not only conventional long passwords but also different ways to make sure your password is strong.

8. Enhance Security Question's Answer


Usually a question of "Who is the lover of my mother?" would generate a typical answer "my dad" but consider adding a nonsensical answer, and something that is strongly related with your past. An answer such as "my mother loves to eat hamburgers" would make it difficult to guess and only you will know the answer to it.

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