Google has become an integral part of our daily lives. Whether it is our PC, smart phone, tablet or any other internet enabled devices, majority of time and work carried out on these devices is somewhat related to our Google account. With close to 1,600,000,000 unique visitors per month, Google by far is the most popular search engine in the market today. We invariably turn towards Google looking for any information on a myriad number of topics related to education, finance, history, culture, entertainment, news, law, etc and this highly popular search engine never disappoints us.
Likewise Gmail is the most popular email service helping us read our mails and communicate with others in a highly efficient and convenient manner. If we wish to watch any video pertaining to anything, we open YouTube which again is a part of Google. Also, we need the services of a web browser to visit any website. Google too is the leader in this segment with its fast, secure and free Chrome web browser which combines sophisticated technology with a minimalistic design to offer a pleasant and hassle free web browsing experience.
Android is the world’s most popular mobile operating system designed primarily for mobile devices employing touch screen technology. Powering close to 85 per cent of touch screen devices, Android developed by Google is another undisputed market leader when it comes to OS of touch screen devices. The buck does not stop here as we also make heavy usage of other Google products like sheets, documents, maps, calendars, contacts as well as Google cloud services. All this clearly shows that Google products are closely intertwined with our informational, work as well as entertainment needs.
This makes it imperative on our part to keep Google account as secure as possible as your Google account has access to all your Google services. Sensitive services like Gmail, Google Drive, Google photos, etc, demand diligent security measures to ensure your privacy and to prevent your sensitive and private information from falling into wrong hands. Additionally, we also gain access to different other websites making use of our Google account credentials. And when so much of your information stored on Google products and services, you would agree that it would be an extremely unwise thing to take a lax approach towards your account security making it vulnerable to external threats.
Ways and Means of Securing your Google Account
Luckily for hundreds of millions users for whom Google has become an intrinsic part of their lives, the California based tech giant has been tirelessly working to ensure that your Google account is safe and secure, and beyond the reach of nefarious activities of spammers, hackers and other unscrupulous elements present on the web. The company has put in places many important security measures in place to protect and recover your account in case of any untoward accident.
In the following paragraphs we shall look at some of the important built-in ways through which you can secure and protect your Google account. We shall list out some important step by step processes through which you can keep your account safeguarded from harmful threats. This though, may result in few inconveniences as you may have to go through certain time consuming processes to access your account. However, if you are keen on protecting your account and your privacy, then rest assured all these measures will be worth your time and effort.
Going through the below mentioned processes and employing them will give you the much needed peace of mind stemming from the fact that you have done your bit to keep your sensitive information out of reach of unwanted priers.
Google’s Security Checkup
The good thing about the entire process is that Google has put in place an inbuilt feature which is a pretty simple and convenient way of quickly checking your account’s security settings. All you have to do is to go to ‘My Account’ to access the ‘Security Checkup’ feature as shown in the picture below. It is listed under’ Sign and Security’. Once you click on the ‘Get Started’ button, you will be directed to a new window wherein you will be asked to take a thorough assessment of your recovery and security information. Please ensure that you spend some time here comprehensively reviewing all the options related to your security as well as recovery.
Setting up your account Recovery Options
What happens if your account gets hacked? There is a famous song by iconic rock band Duran Duran titled’ Someone Else Not Me’. Unfortunately, this is the case with majority of us and we often lead ourselves into (falsely) believing that our accounts are safe and it will not be hacked or at least nobody will try to hack it. The sky comes crushing down on us when we realize to our utmost horror that in this case we are the unfortunate victim. That is why it is strongly emphasized that you set up an account recovery options so that you are able to access your account in case it is hacked. Setting up an account recovery options also proves to be of invaluable help in case you get logged out of your account.
How to proceed?
To set up an account recovery option, you need to first and foremost you need to click on your account icon and then take your cursor to ‘My Account’ tab and press enter. You can access your account making use of any Google web services like You Tube, Gmail, etc. After that you need to click on the ‘Sign and Security’ option. This is already shown in the infographic above. You now need to scroll down to get to “Account recovery options” panel. You will see two boxes there labelled as ‘Recovery mail’ and ‘recovery phone’. Enter your recovery mail and recovery phone numbers. The major benefit of this activity is that Google will send you an instant alert in case your mail is accessed by a device Google has reason to believe is not on your trusted list.
Any unusual or suspicious activity as such is instantly reported allowing you to take corrective measures in quick time. Also, if you have been incidentally logged out of your account and cannot access it, Google will use your alternate email and phone number to help you get back in.
Review the devices connected to your account
In the next help, help is offered by the way of assisting you in carrying out a review of all the devices that you have used to access your account. For example, we may use our personal computer to access Gmail and after some time when on the move, may use our smart phone to access the same account. Suppose you are currently using your Android smart phone to access your account, while an hour ago you were in your office accessing the account on your desktop. It will show you the current device (smart phone in this case) you are using to access your Google account while showing the device(desktop) you were using to access your account an hour ago.
Below the listed devices are two buttons labelled as ‘Looks Good’ and ‘Something Looks Wrong’. These are in fact the two devices through which I have recently been accessing my account so I will obviously click’ Looks Good’ button. On the other hand, if I find something amiss in the devices listed, I will click on ‘Something Looks Wrong’ tab.
Carry out a detailed review of websites and apps allowed to access your Gmail
Security experts often encourage us to keep ourselves updated and generally recommend doing away with apps no longer serving any constructive purposes. Expanding the ‘down arrow’ lists out in detail the level of access each application enjoys to your account. Date of authorization and the Google account information that the application makes use of is shown with a ‘Remove’ button to its left. Click on the remove button in front of listed apps, websites and devices you scarcely use or do not trust.
Note: You are advised to spend some time here reviewing all the applications and websites and removing them in case you realize they are no longer of any use to you.
Add Two-Step Verification
This is an impressive feature offered by Google to ensure comprehensive protection of your Google account. Enabling of two-step verification require that you use your account password and random code sent to your phone to access your account. This more or less eliminates the possibility of hacking or unauthorized access as the person will have to get physical hold of your phone to get the code and access your account. In other words it adds an extra layer of security to your account. If someone somehow manages to get hold of your password, he/she will also have to gain access to your phone to break in to your account.
Steps required for two-step verification settings
First you need to go to ‘My Account’ and click on ‘Sign-in & Security” tab. See earlier explanation. Here you will see ‘2 Step Verification’ listed under “Password & sign-in method” panel. Click on it to get the process moving. Google will ask you to verify your Google account and provide the phone number where the backup code will be sent. Google offers to choices here for your utmost convenience: you can either configure to make sure the two-step verification process kicks in every time you sign into your account; the other choice is to activate the two-step verification process only in an event of signing in to your account from a new device.
After this process is complete, any sign in to your account will require you to provide the code which has been sent to you on your mobile number or through a voice call. The important thing to remember here is that each code is valid only for 30 seconds. You are required to have ten back up codes unless they are all used up. A good alternative to creating back up codes is to download the Google Authenticator app on Android.
If any time during the entire process, you find something is amiss and not up to your utmost satisfaction, you can click on the ‘Something Looks Wrong’ button. It will prompt you to change your password and direct you to a new window.
Set a Strong Password
Do not make the mistake of setting up weak and easy to guess passwords. Refrain from using your birthdate, baby’s name, wife/girlfriend name, etc as passwords as they are easy giveaways. Try to generate a strong password which is a mix of alphabets, numbers and special characters. You are advised to write your password on a notebook kept secretly or better still memorize it. You can also take the help of some quality password generation tools if the entire task seems too cumbersome for your taste.
Keep track of your account password changing activities
After you’re done with the Security Setup, click on the ‘Sign in & Security’ tab. This process or step will take you to a page where information related to the last time your password was changed will be displayed. It will also display information about whether your 2-Step verification is active or not.
It’s a good practice to keep changing your passwords at regular interval. This is a simple process where you have to click on the side arrow button; it will re-direct you to a new window wherein you will be asked for your old password and the new password you wish to replace it with.
Your privacy and your security is of paramount importance and following the above mentioned methods and processes will ensure it remains immune to the nefarious activities of random hackers. However, an advanced hacker with sufficient knowledge and determination can still get in. Of course, it simply implies that your account is worth a fortune, and under such circumstances you need to look beyond these built-in security measures.