As of January 2012, Gmail has 350 million active users worldwide. Due to its popularity, the Google email service has become the target of hackers, phishers and scammers from all over the web. No doubt Gmail has sophisticated security system, but it can never be perfect and 100% invulnerable. As a regular Gmail user, we should do our best to keep our emails, contacts and sensitive information safe. Below we have 10 useful tips which you can use to further strengthen your Gmail security from any possible cyber threats.
Enable HTTPS for Your Gmail Account
By default, HTTPS is enabled for your Gmail account, but it will be good to double check ensuring that the HTTPS security feature is on. To perform a check, you can click on the gear icon > Settings > General > Browser Connection > check the “Always use https” option and then save the changes.
Monitor Your Gmail Activity
Do you know that Gmail allows you to track your account activities? With this feature, you can track the last activity on your mail account and any concurrent activity. This is one of the best ways to check if your account is hacked.
To check your account activities, all you have to do is sign into your Gmail; go to the bottom-right of the page and you’ll see a message saying: “Last account activity: minutes ago”. Click on the “Detail” then you can see your recent activities with the information like access type, location (IP address) as well as date and time.
Create a Strong Password
Your Gmail password is the most important way to guard all your mails, contacts and personal information. It’s vital to create a strong and unique password to make your Gmail account invulnerable to the hackers. Before you figure out a strong password, check out this post to see 40 most-hacked passwords you should never use.
Create a “Strong” Answer to Your Security Question
Don’t think that hackers only love to attack your Gmail account through password. Your mail recovery’s security question can be a weak-point to be hacked. While creating a strong password for your account, you must also figure out a tricky answer to the security question.
To change your mail recovery’s security answer, click on the gear icon > Settings > Accounts and Import > Change password recovery options > click “Edit” on the Security question option and enter your new answer.
Check If There’s any Granted Account Access
In the event that your Gmail is being hacked, the hacker will probably add a fake mail into your account for easier future access. To find out if there’s any hacking activities happening in your Gmail account, click on the gear icon > Settings > Accounts and Import > see if there’s any account you didn’t authorize access to your Gmail.
Prevent Authorized Access
Similar to applications in Facebook, some of you might grant permission to third-party web applications and websites for access into your Gmail account. This could be a security hole which allows hacker to access your account with your “permission”.
To prevent it from happening, go to this page and you’ll see a list of third party sites and/or applications authorized to access your account. Click “Revoke Access” if you find any suspicious websites.
Set up 2-Step Verification for Google Account
Google has rolled out a security feature to help users strengthen their accounts. It’s called 2-Step Verification. Basically, this feature adds an extra security layer by enquiring a code that will be sent to your phone every time you request access to your account. With this method, hacker will not be able to hack your account without the phone.
Check Your Gmail’s Filter, Forwarding and POP/IMAP
Filter can be used to block annoying spam emails, it, however, can potentially transfers emails and information from your Gmail account to the hand of hackers. That’s the reason why it’s important to check your account to delete any suspicious filters. To do this, you can again, click on the gear-like icon > Settings > Filters > check and delete any strange filters.
You may also click on the “Forwarding and POP/IMAP” tab to ensure there’s no suspicious forwarding address included in this tab.
Install Security Plugins on Your Web Browser
Another great way to protect your Gmail account is to strengthen the security of your web browser. You can install security plugin like Web of Trust (WOT) to check whether you are accessing a phishing site. The plugin gives you immediate notification whenever you are entering poor reputation site. BetterPrivacy (only available for Firefox) is another browser plugin that can be used to remove cookies, eliminating the chances for hackers to attack your online accounts.
Don’t Trust Anyone on the Web
As a rule of thumb, never trust anyone on the Internet. Well it may sounds a little controversial, but it can prevent you from falling into the trap of hackers. If you receive any suspicious emails, try not to open them even the mails are sent from your loved ones. This is because their email accounts might be hacked and the mails are sent without their permission. You may give them a call for verification.