Manoj asks: Can you give me some tips to enhance Gmail security? I get a lot of mails which are of key importance to my work and I cannot compromise its security.
There are many ways through which one can enhance Gmail security. We have covered few of the tips individually but today we will sum up all of them. Gmail has been adding many useful security features which most of us hardly use. Today we will show you 10 essential tips to strengthen the Gmail security.
1. 2-Step Verification
To enhance Gmail security, Google has added a security feature named 2-step verification. In simple terms it adds another security layer by asking for a code that will be sent on your phone every time when you will go for Gmail login. Since no one other than you can have your phone at time of login thus making it impossible to hack to your account.
This feature can be easily setup and is pretty easy. You just need to go through some simple instructions and that’s it. In case you face any problem then you can also visit the Help Page. Now for back up you can also create a backup phone number as alternatives to access your account in case you lose or change your number.
Google also provides help to create an application-specific password in case you are using an application which cannot request the verification code. In a way if you opt for this step you will make your Gmail account secure and impenetrable.
2. Enable HTTPS Security
HTTPS can protect your Gmail account using a secure protocol that provides encrypted communication channel. It helps you in browsing in secure environment if you are accessing Gmail account on non-encrypted networks. Although HTTPS is enabled by default but it is always better if you make sure that HTTPS is enabled.
To check whether HTTPS is enabled or not, login to your Gmail account. Click on the gear sign (present on the top right side of the interface) > Settings > General > Browser Connection and check whether HTTPS option i.e. “Always Use HTTPS” is checked. If not then enable it and then save the changes.
3. Granted Account Access
If you noticing some suspicious activities happening in your Gmail account then you should check granted account access settings. If a hacker had a chance to break into your account, he will probably add his own fake email address into your Gmail account for easier access in future.
The setting can be accessed by clicking on gear icon > Settings > Accounts and Imports > Grant access to your account. Once the hacker reaches to this setting he can add any fake email account. Now since you know the setting route, and check if there is any other account added which was not authorized by you.
Also make sure that the option “Mark conversation as read when opened by other” is checked. If anyone else other than you will read your mails, you will come to know about it very easily.
4. Check Filter, Forwarding and POP/IMAP
Whenever you sign in to your account and visit any bad site, it might extract information from your Gmail account using a backdoor method. That method is none other than Filters which can transfer emails as long as that filter exists in the user’s account.
To delete suspicious filter go to gear icon > Settings > Filters and check if there is any filter which you didn’t add. You should also check the “Forwarding and POP/IMAP” tab to confirm that no unknown email address has been included in this tab apart from the ones assigned by you. I have been a personal victim of this method. So a regular check will help you in prevent any kind of suspicious activity and enhance Gmail security.
5. Revoke Unauthorized Access
Just like Facebook, these days many web applications and websites request Gmail account access. This is one of the latest tricks that hackers use to access your Gmail account.
This security hole is not easily noticeable as the option is present in your Google Account instead of Gmail account. To check, login to your Google Account and then go to this page. You will find a list of websites or web apps that have been granted access by you. Click “Revoke Access” if there is any application which looks doubtful. Also revoke access to any application which is no longer useful.
6. Track Gmail Account Activity
It’s always better to check and track Gmail Account Activity. This is one of the best method to protect Gmail from getting hacked. You can check who and when accessed your Gmail account and whether it was hacked or not. Activity Information panel tracks your account activity and logs Access Type, IP Address & Date/Time.
You can check these details by clicking on the “Detail” link present at the bottom of page next to the message saying “Last Account Activity: x minutes ago”. You can also set Alert preference so that Gmail could alert when any unusual activity is monitored.
7. Create A Strong Password
Password is the first line of defense against any hacking attempt. In order to enhance Gmail security, you need to create a strong password. Avoid easy passwords like your phone number, date of birth, girlfriend’s name, etc. To create a strong and memorable password you can also use a trick known as Mnemonic. In this you will utilize your brain function to remember a password. For example you choose a long password like ‘iaccomplished13000ftmark’ but it is too long to memorize and can be hacked easily so you can take the first letter of every word and make this password ‘1a13000fm’.
Still it is not that strong; you should add a unique symbol like # in the above mentioned password which will now become ‘1a#1300fm#’. Now this looks safe. Please don’t use the same password since we explained it here for your understanding.
8. Improve Security Question’s Answer
Hackers love to hack into someone’s account by using mail recovery security question. Now this trick will obviously bypass the strong password which you just set. For this, all you can do is create a question of your choice.
Make sure to create one as nonsensical as possible and keep the answer relating to your actual life so that you can memorize it easily. For e.g. if you set a question – “Who is the lover of my friend” then keep the answer as “my friend loves to eat French fries”. (Please don’t use the same question and answer since we covered it here). Just like we said, make it as unpredictable as you can.
9. Adopt Browser Security Plugins
No matter how secure password you create or how creatively you set your security question but you might end up getting tricked by phishers. Although these days browsers have their own anti-phishing methods to combat such scammers but still you can adopt security plugins which will enhance Gmail security by removing threats and identifying phishing sites.
For this you can use Web of Trust (WOT) that checks the bad sites. WOT shows a dark page whenever a potentially bad site is about to be accessed, covering the front page of website. It will inform you about the poor reputation of website. WOT is available for all major web browsers like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, etc.
On the other hand cookies also stores certain user related information for future access but it can also lead hackers to access your computer. For this you can use BetterPrivacy plugin which removes long term cookies. BetterPrivacy is only available for Firefox but similar plugins are available in Firefox add-on gallery, Chrome web store and Safari extension gallery.
10. Trust No One
Last but not the least, Trust No One even if you receive emails from your loved ones because it might be possible that their account got hacked and hackers sent you mails without their permission. This is a very common practice and that is why before taking any step cross check the information from your friends or family members before extending any kind of help.
Although there is one disturbing truth, a professional can hack any account if he wishes to but to prevent that random situation it’s better to take precaution. Usually hackers don’t invest their time in hacking random accounts. If you have any other tip which could enhance Gmail security then do share with us through comments.