Gmail has over one billion users. This means almost one in every seven people on earth use this email service. Today, we will discuss the top tips to perform a Gmail security checkup. We will also discuss how it can ensure safety from hackers.
Gmail comes with a lot of security features. These features are often already available as an active service. However, there are some features that depend on how the user decides to configure.
For example, Gmail has world-class spam fighting tool that is already at work without much of an effort from a user. Similarly, it also has security measures in place to protect passwords from getting into the hands of hackers.
Before we move towards the tips and tricks to perform a Gmail security checkup, let us first look at the threats that lurk all the time while using Gmail. We shall also try to understand the cons of not performing a regular Gmail security checkup.
Threats of not performing a regular Gmail security checkup
The most common threat is a password theft. Hackers lure users into clicking links and downloading zip folders. These lead to the installation of malicious scripts on the computer. They keep a track of the user’s activities and steal the password. Once someone has the Gmail password of a user, the content of the account is under threat. This content can be anything from confidential information to private data.
Hacked accounts are used for numerous kinds of illicit activities. The hacked Gmail account can be used for spreading false messages. It can also be an authentic-looking source for spreading spam emails. We have talked previously about the threats of malware. Hacked accounts can also be used to spread malware among trusted friends and family of the account owner.
The result of these activities is not only loss of data but it also leads to monetary losses as well. It can create misunderstandings among friends and negatively affect the life of the account user in many other ways.
In short, these offenses are so grave, sometimes the results are irreparable.
We now have an understanding of the threats of a weak Gmail security setup. To be able to defend the account from the many security threats, there is no better way than to perform a regular Gmail security checkup.
What is the Gmail security checkup?
Google as an email service provider is always concerned about the security of user accounts. This is why the company has come up with a series of measures to defend against threats. This series of measures is known as the Gmail security checkup. It provides an overview of what measures can a user perform to secure an account. It also gives a quick intro on how to perform each step.
As of March 2018, Gmail recommends 8 steps for the users to follow. Once these steps are carried out successfully, the threats of account getting hacked are minimized.
The 8 steps of Gmail security checkup are:
- Scanning for viruses and malware.
- Following security checkup in “My Account” section.
- Updating recovery options.
- Enabling two-step verification.
- Updating operating system and browser.
- Not using Gmail password elsewhere.
- Password protection.
- Password strength.
Tips for Gmail security checkup
Let me give you some tips and tricks based on the eight steps Gmail has recommended. These will help to strengthen the overall security of your Gmail account.
First of all, make sure to update the operating system. If you have a Windows-powered computer, go to Microsoft’s official updates website and see if a new update is available. Updates are important because they have solutions for the latest threats and loopholes in the operating system itself. Similarly, MacOS and Linux like operating systems have regular updates too.
Once you have the latest version of an operating system installed, install an antivirus software. Often the operating system comes with and pre-installed antivirus program. You can also install a third-party antivirus software. There are free as well as paid versions of this software. It is better to get a paid version as the developer offers dedicated support and more features for premium versions of the antivirus software. As soon as you have it installed, update the virus definition and scan your entire computer. This will search deep inside the various partitions on your drive and detect any threat that may harm your computer. If something is detected, you can put it in quarantine or delete entirely.
Now, it’s time to upgrade the browser. Gmail recommends Chrome, an internet browser developed by Google itself. Download and install the latest version of Google Chrome. In the more tools section of the browser, go to extensions and remove any suspicious extensions. Try to use extensions that are verified or recommended by Google.
It’s now time for some steps that are directly linked to your Gmail account. Select a password that is longer than 8 characters. Make sure to include numerics and symbols too. It will make harder for brute force methods to guess the password. Do not share this password with anyone through an online messenger. Also, don’t write it in an unsafe place like the cover of a notebook or a book. If it is absolutely necessary to write it down, write it on a small paper and put it inside a wallet or something that is not accessible by others.
Another important tip is not to use the same password for any other service. The reason is simple. If one of your passwords is compromised, it would make easier for hackers to get into other linked accounts owned by the same user. Keep a different password for each service.
Change your password more often. If you use public computers a lot, you should change it once in another. Otherwise, change it quarterly.
Setup 2-factor authentication. 2-factor authentication puts a strong layer on your Gmail account and makes it nearly impossible to hack. Once you set it up, upon logging in with the right password, the system will ask for a code. You will receive this code via SMS. You can only login using the right code.
One Last Thing
And finally, check the Gmail security checkup page and setup backup codes, alternate email and alternate mobile numbers. Here you can change the recovery information and see what devices are connected to your account. Also, there is a whole dedicated section for managing apps. You may want to see what apps are using your Gmail data.
The above-mentioned tips will help you fight security attacks and make it nearly impossible for hackers to get into your account. However, it is important to perform the Gmail security checkup on a regular basis.