First things first! In this age of digital presence, communication is the key and emails are one of the primary tools used by businesses and individuals to stay connected. Gmail is one of the most used free online mail service and with ever increasing threats of accounts hijacks, you should be vigilant enough to ensure that you are not at the receiving end of this pointy stick.
If you are concerned that your Gmail account may be hacked or if you want to be sure that your account is safe, Google provides a set of tools that will aid you in staying secure.
Keeping tabs on account activity
The primary thing you would want to do is keep tabs on the activity related to your account. Access your Gmail account through your desktop or laptop. Navigate to the bottom of your account and click on ‘Details’ on the bottom right hand corner of the screen. This will bring up a new window showing you last 10 account related activities [screenshot below].
If you find anything unfamiliar or see entries that you believe are not related to your login or don’t match the date and time you have accessed your account, it would be wise to change the password immediately.
Simple password based authentication isn’t dead, but if you are not good at creating and remembering complex passwords, then Google has two-factor authentication in place to help you out.
To enable two-factor authentication, click on the ‘gear’ symbol on the top right hand corner of the screen, then click on accounts and then ‘other Google Account settings’. This will bring up a new browser window / tab and a set of new tabs. Click on ‘Security’ and under password option click on ‘setup’ next to 2-step verification. Follow the on-screen instructions and you are done. Learn more about 2-Step Verification.
Apps and access levels
You might be using smartphones and tablets and even different laptops to access your Gmail account. During the course and overtime you might forget which all apps may have access to your Gmail account. To review this you can click on ‘gear’ symbol on the top right hand corner of the screen, then click on accounts and then ‘other Google Account settings’. Next, click on ‘Data Tools’ and under ‘Account’ you will find the option ‘Connected applications and sites’ which will bring you to ‘Account Permissions’ screen.
Here you will find a list of apps that have access to your Gmail account and the level of access they have. You may even revoke access if you want.
Finally if you want to be kept abreast with account activities automatically, you can sign-up for monthly reports that will be emailed to you directly. Navigate to ‘Data Tools’ as you did above, and click on ‘Sign up for monthly reports’.