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How to Increase the Security of Your Google Account

There is no question that Google is a leader in the world of technology or that many people have Google accounts. Some just use their account for Gmail, while others also take advantage of things like Google Photos and Google Drive. With the prevalence of Google accounts, it is important to take security steps, so your account does not become compromised.

Set Up Account Recovery Options

One of the first suggestions from Google to improve account security is to set up or update your options for account recovery. Google lets you set up a phone number and an email address to use for account recovery.

Setting up this information not only provides access to your account if you lose the password but also poses a security function. Google will send you notifications to your recovery number/email if there is suspicious activity. As such, having recovery options in place can provide you with an early warning of malicious activity concerning your account.

Use Two-Step Verification

As is the case for most major online accounts, Google offers two-step verification. However, it does not require it. You should activate this extra authentication step to further secure your account. Essentially, with two-step verification in place, you can ensure that someone who steals your password cannot access your account without an additional code. Google offers multiple choices for two-factor authentication, including text message codes, Google Prompts, and security keys.

Limit Applications That Can Access Your Google Account

Because Google is so popular, many third-party websites let you log into their own websites or create an account using your existing Google account. While this adds convenience, it also poses a security risk since those third-party websites and applications will then be able to access sensitive information.

You can minimize the risk and boost your security by carefully managing the applications that can access your account. You also have the option to turn off access to applications with less-secure sign-in technology.

If you go to the Permissions page of My Account when logged in, you can view which applications have access to your Google account or allow for signing in with Google. You can then click on any of the applications and select “Remove Access.” There is also a setting for “Less Secure Apps,” which lets you turn off access for applications that qualify.

Activate Screen Locks

Yet another way to improve security on your Google account is to set up lock screens on devices that you use to access your account. With lock screens in place, others will not be able to access your account. This is a simple step but can do wonders for protecting your security.

Keep Software Updated

Make sure that all the software you use is updated. The latest updates and patches for your browsers, operating systems, and Google applications will include security updates to block known threats. If you avoid updates, you put yourself at risk from known threats that should no longer be an issue.

Choose a Strong Password

Another common theme for internet security that applies to Google accounts relates to password selection. Use a unique password for your Google account, and make sure that it is unique and hard to guess. Remember that if you use the same password for Google and other accounts, a hacker only needs to access one of these passwords to access all of them.

Use HTTPS

Encryption is also an important part of the security of your Google account. With encryption, even interrupted messages or connections will include data that makes no sense without a decryption key. To ensure encryption, make sure you use HTTPS connections instead of HTTP. There is even an upcoming warning from Gmail when an email arrives from a connection that is not encrypted.

Be Cautious with Applications and Extensions

Regardless of the device you use to access your Google account, you should be cautious when it comes to installing applications, extensions, or other software onto the device. The more extensions or applications installed, the greater the risk, particularly if you cannot trust one of the apps in question.

Be Smart about Emails

Since your Google account is linked to Gmail, your account security should also involve email best practices. Do not open emails from unknown senders, and never download an attachment or click on a link in an email from someone you do not know or if the message seems suspicious. Similarly, watch out for phishing emails, and never share your sensitive information, such as password or account information.

Occasionally Check Security Logs

Google conveniently keeps track of your activity logs for you, giving you the ability to review these logs at any time. When used correctly, the activity log can help you identify and track unauthorized access or hacking attempts. You should make sure to check it on a regular basis and then flag suspicious events.

You can find this section in the security section of your Google account. There are sections both for “recent security events” and “recently used devices.” You can get more information on any of the events or devices by clicking on them.

Use Google’s Advanced Protection

Google offers something called the Advanced Protection Program. Enrolling in this program adds protection against many common ways that hackers gain access to your account. You will need to purchase two security keys to use this program. These are small gadgets that you simply connect to a device. To sign into an account, you need to have the key. For convenience, the Advanced Protection Program only requires you to use the security keys at your first login on a device or browser.

The Takeaway

If you are like most people, you use your Google account for multiple functions, from sending emails to storing documents to logging into various websites and applications. With a few simple security steps, you can help keep your Google account safe, reducing your risk of hacking.

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