Tips to Protect Your Google Account from Getting Hacked

The three security principles in an information system are confidentiality, integrity, and availability. They are also known as the CIA triad and are essential to maintain the security of any computer system.

Gmail is an email service offered by Google and is an integrated part of the Google ecosystem. Even though Google takes care of their services, the user has the responsibility to take care of their account. The system-wide authentication allows any user to use any google service when logged in to the Google account. If the authentication details fall in the wrong hand or the account is not adequately secured, all three security principles are violated. This guide demonstrates several methods to secure a Google account and prevent unauthorized access. Using a desktop PC when following this tutorial is highly recommended as it’s convenient to follow this guide.

Solution 1: Use a Strong Password

Authenticating a user account with a username and password is a popular method in any information system. Gmail requires the user to enter the username and password when logging in to their Google account. If the password can be easily guessed, or if it is a simple one, the security of the Gmail account is at risk. Follow the following steps to set a secure password.

Solution 2: Use 2-Step Verification

2-Step Verification further improves the security of the Gmail account by adding an additional security layer to the authentication process. It requires the user to be authenticated with a passcode. The passcode can be obtained with several methods. Google prompt, authenticator app, voice or text message, and backup code are the available methods. Use the following methods to turn on 2-Step Verification with ease.

  1. Navigate to the following link:

  1. Scroll down until you see the 2-Step Verification link.
  2. Click the link and enter your Google account password.
  3. Click SET UP in the Voice or text message section.
  4. Enter your phone number and choose between Text message and Phone call.
  5. Enter the verification code and click DONE to confirm the ownership of the phone number.

Solution 3: Use the Authenticator App

Authoritarian regimes and government agencies are known to hack the phone numbers of certain activists to gain access to their email accounts for political purposes. According to  lucky225 – a security researcher, SMS messages can easily be intercepted with a simple hack. If a third-party user can gain access to the SMS of another user, a government agency can do much more than that. Therefore, it’s recommended to use the Authenticator App developed by Google to secure the account as it offers better overall protection against such malicious hijacking. This solution might not be essential for an average user as the threat level for them is relatively low. This app doesn’t work on non-smartphones, older Android/ iPhone devices and some mobile operating systems.

  1. Navigate to the following link

  1. Click on 2-Step Verification.
  2. Scroll down to the list to locate the Authenticator app, then click Set up.
  3. Select if you’re using an Android system or an iPhone and click NEXT.
  4. Download the Google Authenticator app from Play Store or App Store.
  5. Tap on the Scan the QR code in the Authenticator app.
  6. After selecting the operating system from the list in step 4, it will display a QR code on the screen. Scan it from the Authenticator app.
  7. Use the passcode in the Authenticator app on the enter the 6-digit code you see in the app prompt.

Solution 4: Use Google Security Check-up once in a while

Google Security check-up allows the user to inspect their Google account, including Gmail, for the security vulnerabilities, in a small list. The list is divided into five sections. When each section has no security vulnerabilities, a green mark appears in front of its title name. Use the following steps for the comprehensive guide.

  1. 2-Step Verification: It displays the number of ways to verify the owner of the account. If any method is not used, Google recommends activating the particular method to improve the account’s security. Activating all the methods decreases the likelihood of the Google account from being locked out.
  2. Your devices: It displays all the platforms this Google account is logged in, for instance, Android, Windows, etc. If a particular platform is no longer used, sign out with the button next to its name.
  3. Recent security activity: It displays the most recent security activities of the Google account. It includes adding 2-factor authentication, changing the password, and giving access to an app, etc.

Third-party access: It displays the third-party apps to which the Google account granted the access. It includes WhatsApp messenger, WordPress plugins, sign up with Google, and any Android app that uses Google Drive to store the backup. Click the Remove access button on each app to revoke their access to the Google account.

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