Cases of Cybercrime are persistent and always on the rise, thanks to us how much of our lives exist in the digital realm. In the frenzy of this digital era, maintaining online privacy and security is very important. The first step in securing your online presence is ensuring your email account is in safe hands. Your email account is what controls your entire online presence. It registers you on social media, authorises your internet banking credentials, maintains your confidential communications, and what not. Once your email account is compromised, all services associated with it poses similar risks. Gmail is among the popular email service providers in the world. Google has brought everything under a common roof called Google account. Hence compromising your Google account is equivalent to compromising everything. Here is why:
Find My Device: World’s best detective ever
You must be wondering why we are calling ‘Find My Device’ (previously Android Device Manager) the world’s best detective ever. Find My Device is a service run by Google, which helps users locate their Android smartphone. In case you lose your phone, first go to Find My Device app or https://www.google.com/android/find.
Find My Device will reveal the exact physical location of your device, or the last location where it was connected to the internet. However, you need to grant permission to your smartphone for accessing your GPS coordinates. Now consider that someone is accessing your Google account without your knowledge. Find My Device uses the same login credentials as your Google account. In such a case, it will end up revealing your phone’s location. However, it is very likely that along with your phone’s location, the perpetrator will also get your physical location. Tracking you in real time after this will be a piece of cake.
Google Dashboard: The doorway to your innermost secrets
Google Dashboard is where all your Google services related data is stored. It is worth pointing out that it will not let you forget anything as long as you are signed in to your Google Account. It remembers your entire location history, your embarrassing search queries, and anything else you might have done using a Google service. If that is not enough, hear out that it also remembers when you last opened WhatsApp, Tinder, or any app on your smartphone.
My Activity shows what videos you watched on YouTube and at what time. We do not mean to exaggerate or convince you to stop using your smartphone, all we are saying is be aware of the fact that your data is consistently recorded on Google servers and always accessible in just a few clicks. You can explore your My Activity dashboard by going to https://myactivity.google.com.
Similar is the case if you have added your credit/debit card to your Google account or using Google Wallet services. In such situations, it is highly necessary to ensure the safety of your Google account so that you can secure your account from fraudulent transactions.
One of the scariest aspects of Google Dashboard is that it also stores Google Maps data, which includes all movement and not just the ones where you use the app for navigation. This data can easily be used to extract every location you frequent and your movement patterns. It is essentially a stalker’s Candyland, so securing all this information should probably be of the utmost importance.
If you’re worried about your data as much as we are, here are a number of tips that will help you add various layers to protection to your Google account and hopefully, make it almost impenetrable. You should know that the outside of a massive hack aimed at Google servers if your account is compromised, it is most likely due to user negligence at some level. In the tips below, we try and cover any many weak points as possible to help you keep your sensitive data safe.
Seven ways to secure your Google Account
1. At any point, if you think your account has been compromised, reset your password without giving it a second thought. Setting up a new password does no harm. Use a strong, secure password. Do not use passwords that are easy to guess such as your phone number, variations of your (or your loved one’s names) or date of birth. Always use a strong password, which will ideally be a combination of lower & upper case letters along with numbers and sometimes even symbols. If someone really wants to break into your account, make them earn it.
2. Check your smartphones/tablets/laptops/ computers for malware and viruses regularly. In case your computer has a malicious program running in the background, it may record keystrokes and other vital information, leading to the violation of your Google account. Do check out these five simple ways to protect your phone from malware, ransomware and viruses.
3. Always keep your account recovery options up-to-date. Keep your active mobile number or alternate email ID added to perform account recovery.
4. Opt for 2-step authentication. It adds extra security to your Google account. Users are required to input their account password in addition to code they receive on their mobile number. You can add 2-factor authentication to your account by going to https://www.google.com/landing/2step/
5. Keep your web browser and operating system up-to-date. We also recommend having a third party anti virus/malware program on your device. Ensure that the program is up to date and you scan your devices regularly, as mentioned tip number 2.
6. Do not use the same password as your Google account for other platforms. This is because in the event a third party platform is compromised, it could potentially also leak your Google login information.
7. Last but not least, do not share your account login credentials with anyone, not even your most trusted friend or family member especially over text, email or even services like Facebook Messenger or Whatsapp.
For the purpose of this article, we have focused on two different services: Google Dashboard and Find My Device, out of which the latter does not store your data but help you locate your smartphone. In case you are wondering, the purpose of this article is not to scare you but to create awareness about things that are necessary for your safety. If you found our article insightful, let us know in comments below.