Considering just how valuable a hacked email account can be to intruders, keeping this lynchpin of your online presence and data infrastructure secure is of paramount importance.
This applies especially to those 500 plus million of us who are using Google’s email for our communications, since a Gmail account ties right into a much wider Google services account that surrounds it. This means that access to your Google email also includes access to your Google cloud storage (Drive) your Google+ account and a whole assortment of other possibly important digital platforms that you’re using.
Naturally, since one single password opens up all of these connected services simultaneously, you really want to make sure you protect it well.
This is what we’re going to cover today: Protecting your Google account and password; first by going through some more basic tips and then moving on to a final rock solid security booster for your entire Google account.
Want a Secure Password? Start with the Password itself
Your Google account security and password security both first begin in the same place, with your password itself. Simply stated, your first step in keeping your password and account secure should involve making your password really, really hard to crack or guess.
This means using passwords that aren’t obvious (so no birthdays, children’s names or single words of any kind); it means using very long passwords of at least 8 characters and preferably 12 or more., and it means using passwords with multiple random characters in them. An excellent example being: “hd74iHkf84uhd83hff777hh” instead of say, “kitty”. If this seems complicated, you can turn make it easier by creating a long string of characters like that through a mnemonic acronym.
No regular dictionary or single simple word password is secure; hackers can use dictionary attack software programs to crack simple passwords in just a few seconds.
Don’t Write your Password Down
Ideally, don’t write your password down anywhere at all after you’ve developed it, but more practically, write it down only in one single place and keep that physical place highly secure.
Even if you did write your password down somewhere for just in case you forget it, try your best to get it memorized as soon as possible so that you can destroy the written evidence and be more secure.
Keep your Accounts Closed!
Yet another very simple but very important step you can take to keep your password and account itself secure lies in just making sure to close your account and log out of it at all times on all devices whenever you’re not deliberately logged in. This should apply to your mobile devices, tablets, laptop, desktop PC and absolutely, especially to any third party machine you don’t personally own.
Leaving your account open on a machine and then losing that machine or having it used by someone else can quickly lead to a hacked account and a password that’s been changed behind your back.
So make it a rule, log out every single time you’re done with your Google account!
Protect your Devices
A secure account is made even more secure by the security of the devices you use to access it. A lot of intruders who hack email accounts don’t go after the email itself and all its attendant security directly. Instead, what they do is infect the mobile device or computer of a user and use it to extract valuable access to all sorts of accounts through surveillance and intrusion tools.
Thus, on your machine itself (especially your laptop or PC) practice good security measures by installing antivirus software, firewall security, a login prompt and possibly even an application sandbox such as Sandboxie for isolating downloaded and untrustworthy applications when you need to run them.
Lock up your Password with LastPass
LastPass is a digital password security service that basically let’s you condense all of your online password based accounts under one single login umbrella that gets permission to login on your behalf and do so through the use of computer generated large passwords that are nearly impossible to guess in any way.
Must Read: Common Security Risks With Cloud Computing
Instead of logging into all of your email, banking and other online accounts individually, you simply give LastPass access to all of them and log into all accounts via LastPass, with just one password of your own that you yourself need to remember. As long as you make your LastPass password very secure, you can be worry free about your Google account password since it’s LastPass who now controls its complexity.
For the really paranoid, LastPass even offers two factor authentication options for your LastPass account itself. These can involve USB memory stick based access or SMS based one time passkeys.
Two Factor Authentication
Finally we move on to the best security protection you can apply to a Google account to really boost the protecting power of your passwords. Simple enable two factor (TFA) for your Google account. It’s free, it’s easy and its highly recommended by both Google itself and numerous security experts like Authentify. Furthermore, TFA applied to a Google account automatically protects all services associated with that account, including Gmail, Drive, Adwords and everything else you might be using.
How do you implement TFA on to your Google account? First, simply click on the link in the paragraph above to get started with the process itself.
Essentially, this process is going to consist of logging into your account and setting up a mobile phone to which you will have a onetime authentication key sent via SMS every time you log in from a computer that isn’t on your list of trusted devices. The two-factor registration process will also ask you to create a list of one time written passkeys for in case you lose your mobile phone or don’t have it with you in a situation that requires you to log into your Google account.
With TFA for Google in place, your password will no longer be your only barrier to account entry and thieves who want to intrude will have to have access to your phone at the same time. This will immensely boost your Google password and account security.