How To Secure Your Google/Gmail Account From Hacking

Google Mail

First Published: 2011; Last Updated: Thursday, March 27, 2014

Google knows what we’re searching for, what we read online, what we have signed up for, who we often contact, with whom we’re connected, what we watch, where we are, what we sound like, what our friends do, our meetings, our interests, where we go, etc. (see full list here). And hence, it’s very important that we secure our Google (and Gmail) account  to prevent any unauthorized access.

Here’s How To Secure Your Google Account

1. Choose A Strong & Unique Password

Use a strong password for your Gmail account that you do not use on any other site. You can change your Google account password here.

2. Enable 2-Step Verification

Two step verification adds an extra layer of security to your Google Account by requiring you to have access to your phone – as well as your username and password – when you sign in. This means that if someone steals or guesses your password, the potential hijacker still can’t sign in to your account because they don’t have your phone.


3. Add Alternate E-mail Address & Mobile Phone Number

Add a mobile phone number and a recovery e-mail address to your Google account so that you can easily reset your password in case you forget your password or to recover your Google account in case it’s hacked.

4. Secure Your Computer

Check for viruses and malware.

Make sure your operating system is up to date.

Make sure to perform regular software updates.

Make sure your browser is up to date (Tip: Use whatbrowser.org to check).

Check your browser for plug-ins, extensions, and third-party programs/tools that require access to your Google Account credentials.

5. Check Your Gmail Account Activity

Gmail Account Activity

If you get notifications about unusual activity alerts in your Gmail account then you can review the Recent activity of your Google account. Or click the Details link at the bottom right corner of your Gmail window to see the time, date, IP address, location and the access type of your recent account activity.

6. Review Gmail Settings

In Gmail there are several ways to forward your Gmail to another account. So check if your Gmail messages are being forwarded to another account without your permission and see if there are any Gmail filters created to forward your e-mails to another account. Also check your POP/IMAP settings and disable them if you don’t access your e-mail using POP/IMAP. Finally, check whether your Gmail account is giving access to someone else. Because Google allows us to delegate access to our Gmail account to up to 10 users.

7. Protect Your Gmail account

As you may know, if your Google/Gmail account is hacked then the only way to regain access to your account is by verifying your identity.

They say…

Since Google doesn’t collect a lot of information about you when you sign up for an account, we’ll ask you questions like when you created your account, what Google services you use, and who you email frequently (if you use Gmail).

So it’s important to note down the following information about your Google account preferably in your personal diary so that in case your account is hacked you can easily recover it by verifying your identity.

  1. What was the last password that you remember (must have)?
  2. When was the last time (month, date, and year) you were able to sign in to your Gmail account (must have)?
  3. When did you (month and year) create your Gmail account (must have)?
  4. What was the answer to your security question?
  5. E-mail addresses of up to 5 frequently emailed contacts.
  6. Name of up to 4 labels.
  7. What was the first account recovery e-mail address that you remember?
  8. Name up to 4 other Google products that you were using with your Gmail account and also the approximate date (month and year) you started using them.
  9. Phone numbers that you may have associated with your Google account.
  10. Information about how you lost access to your Google/Gmail account.

Tip: How To Find Your Google Account Creation Date

To find your Gmail account creation date, simply go here and it will redirect to a page that shows your oldest messages. Or you can go to your Gmail inbox > All Mail folder and click on “Oldest” navigation button.

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But if you’ve deleted messages from your Gmail then that date is not reliable. So you can check whether the first Gmail welcome mail is there in your inbox or not. If it’s missing then the best way to find the exact date of your Google account creation is by using the Google Takeout Tool. Go to Google Takeout Tool and click “Transfer your Google+ connections to another account” and enter your password. {Thanks: Google System}

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And it will show the basic account information like your Google account type, date of creation, and the last sign-in date.

8. Setup Inactive Account Manager

Do you know that you can control your Google account even when you stopped using your account? Google launched Inactive Account Manager last year and it allows you to define when to treat your Google account as inactive and you can then give instructions about what to do with your data when the account is inactive.

You can set a combination of: timeout period (you can define a timeout period after which your account becomes inactive), alerts (get text alerts when your timeout period is approaching), notify contacts (you can add trusted contacts so that they will be notified when you’re no longer using your account), share data (you can share your data with your trusted contacts if you wish), delete account (Google will automatically delete your account on your behalf) when you account is inactive.

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    Thanks for the post,

    Really found it remorsefulness i use to think that the
    sms verification from google is a waste of my time,

    but i can see know that it is very use full for
    securing my enail address

    thanks once again

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  • http://Pulkit.Me Pulkit Kaushik

    It’s good but sadly not feasible for me. I don’t carry my cell phone to school.

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    Thank you for your article very useful

  • http://www.minterest.com Mahesh Mohan

    What’s the problem?