Sporting 425 million active users, Gmail is one of the top free, ad-supported webmail service along with Windows Live and Yahoo. The popularity owes much to Gmail’s user-friendly interface, spam free inbox and strict security protocols. However, that does not secure every Gmail user from unsolicited junk, phishing attacks and hackers. In fact, an ostrich’s approach towards your Gmail account security can seriously undermine your online identity, privacy and security.
So, what to do, you may ask!
Here we present 10 ways to keep your Gmail account secure. Some of these are set by default. Others require opting-in and change of settings. Follow these tips and ensure your personal emails remain personal.
1. Make Sure That Gmail Runs Under HTTPS
Some browsers, operating systems and devices may not run Gmail under a secure HTTPS network protocol. And that is an open invitation to a data thief to break into you Gmail account. Therefore, you must always make sure that your Gmail account is set to run with its default HTTPS setting. Keep an eye on the URL space of your browser while using Gmail; if it shows HTTP in place of HTTPS, you need to get it fixed through your settings.
2. Two-Step Verification
If your Gmail is full of sensitive and private information, you ought to get that double shielded through a two-step verification process. That requires you to verify your identity twice before you gain access to your account. The first verification step is submission of your login details (Gmail username or ID & password). The second step is verification via a code sent to your mobile device. Enabling two-step verification will not allow any hacker to steal your information even if you lose your password.
3. Alternate And Recovery Email Addresses
It is never wise to keep all your digital eggs in one basket. For when it gets hacked, all is lost. Gmail gives you an opportunity to provide a recovery email addresses (any email service) to your Gmail account.
So even if you’re robbed of your Gmail account, you can access it using your recovery/alternate address. Similarly, you can request a new password to be sent to that address if you ever forget or lose your password. To make use of this feature, just click on your Google Seal at the top right of your browser’s window and go to setting to edit and enter recovery and alternate email addresses.
4. Delete Web History
Do you really want a creepy hacker to know whatever you searched on the internet from the time of your Google account creation? If no, then you should get your web history off the shelf from Google/Gmail account. You must define the extent and duration to which Google should keep your history saved for future reference, and as a safety precaution, you should delete sensitive history from it after a few days. Go to history.google.com and sign-in with your Gmail account to determine what stuff you want Google to forget and what to save.
5. Double Check The Forwarding And POP/IMAP Feature
Gmail users can access their email on their work emails (Outlook, Netscape etc.) by marking a forwarding email address. However, you must scrutinize this feature occasionally to check for an authorized forwarding address. To do this, click the gear-like button below your Gmail Sign-In seal, and go to settings in the drop down and then to the sixth tab.
Confirm the forwarding address, if any, and create a filter through instructions on the button ‘Creating a Filter’. Also get the POP enabled; it prevents hack attacks carried out using your forwarding address/email.
6. Review Connected Applications And Sites
Isn’t it just pleasing that giants like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn etc. asks for you ‘permission’ before they tie your Google/Gmail to them? This commendable attitude, however, cannot always be rewarding, as it may allow hacker-built applications and websites to target you easily. You must revoke all connected sites and applications that are not trusted or authorized by you.
7. Keep Track of Your Gmail Activity
One of the best ways to keep your Gmail account secure is to get periodic trace of your account activity. With a view of your Gmail activity report, you can determine of any irregularities made into your account. It is a quick security scan of your Gmail account and ensures a good degree of transparency and control on part of Google.
8. Lock Down Gmail Hackers With Security Plugins
A number of in-browser plug-ins can help a lot with your Gmail security. Among the most important of them are WOT (Web of Trust), Mozilla’s BetterPrivacy, Abine’s DeleteMe and others. These plug-ins and services warn you of blacklisted sites, to clear cookies and to remove your name from data mining sites. Having them in place secures your wider browsing session, whilst keeping your Gmail safe.
9. Strong password
Let’s be honest. We all create passwords that are easier to remember and type. But it is this very approach that often lands us in hot waters. Unless you use a 2-step sign-in process for your Gmail, a strong password is the only hurdle in the way of a hacker. You need not make it like $2#[email protected] but it shouldn’t be as plain as ‘password123’. Use a combination of at least one capital letter, one digit, one symbol and lowercase letters (e.g. 2zineT100).
10. Trust Nobody
This is rough, but it works. Most million dollar lottery win mails aren’t real even when they are sent by people you know. If a loved one asks for an emergency help in times of financial crisis, get confirmation on a phone call or through a meeting. Otherwise, you might impose crisis on your own self. Stay safe, do not respond to spam and phishing mails, ever.
Couple Gmail Internal Security Features With VPN
Gmail account security is a challenge, because professional hackers can sometimes crack even the toughest security measures. However, there are ways to keep your Gmail account secure, by practicing the aforementioned ways and tips. At the very least, we advise you to turn on 2-step verification for your Gmail account and use HTTPS whenever available. If you’re looking for some ultimate email security, consider subscribing to a VPN. It virtually hides your online presence by masking your network IP, encrypting your data, making you anonymous and sending all your communications through secure virtual tunnels; best of all, it’s surprisingly light on your pocket. What are you waiting for?