Check Your Gmail Account To Make Sure No-one Else Has Access To It

If you are a person that uses a lot of web services then you realize how convenient such services can be. While the previous decade was dominated by services that were installed on the computer, this decade has been dominated by what are known as web services. For the people who might not know what that term means, it is an application that you use on the web. No, that does not mean that every web page is a web service. It has to be a web page that performs an activity and not just one that gives you information.

One of the biggest web services is an Email client provided by Google which is known as GMail. Gmail grew very quickly and is one of Google’s biggest success stories. For years if people wanted to use an online email client they had to stand for service that was very lackluster compared to the installed versions. For example, if you compared Yahoo mail in the past to Microsoft Outlook there was no competition. Gmail changed that. For the first time, people saw that they could use an online web service that was just as good if not better than the native client version. With GMail a revolution came with online web services and it has only gotten bigger.

Check Your Gmail Account To Make Sure No-one Else Has Access To It

The problem with Web Services

But while the web has come up with even better version of web services there is still one factor that has not been stomped out yet. And that factor is that web services are really vulnerable when it comes to securing them. Yes, companies try their best to secure web services but there are several factors that cannot be controlled by the company. These are the factors which leave the services vulnerable. One factor is the person who is creating the account and the other factor is that no matter how good your programmers and security team are, there are still going to be holes that are left in the software.

The problem with the end users

When it comes to you the end user, even people who think that they know a lot about security when it comes to the internet can leave themselves wide open. If you assume that you already know it all then you are going to be the first victim when it comes to a black hat hacker. There are a dozen of different ways that a black hat hacker can get your web service password away from you. One trick is that they can make you think that you are signing into the right web service but is actually one that they sent you to. They can also send you a fake email which makes you believe that you have already been hacked and you need to login to the web service through their link to change your password. There are several more ways that a person who wants your password to a web service can get it but let’s continue on in the article.

Holes in any web service

Even a web service that is as secure as Gmail has been proven to have security holes in it. There have been several attacks on the service over the years and there will continue to be. It can be argued that besides the government, the Gmail web service is one of the most heavily secured web services on the internet. But even still there have been holes still found in it. So even though you may trust Google with your information, you must also check to make sure that your privacy has not been violated. There a few ways to do this through Google and that is what I will talk about next.

Securing your GMail account

To make sure that your Google GMail account is secured the first thing that you want to remember is to never give out your password. Even if they send you an email, go to the web site directly. Do not click on the link that is in the Email. That is the number one way that people are tricked into giving up their private information. Another thing that you should do is to log in to your Gmail account and use the last account activity filter that is included with the service. Check to see if it all matches up from what you remember. If you have a little bit of computer knowledge then this service can help you in a better way. It will let you see which IP addresses were used to log into the service. You can easily go to a web site such as whatismyIP.com and check to see if your IP address matches. Remember this is not a fool proof service because every now and then your IP address changes. Also you may log into your Gmail account from another place besides your home internet connection and you would probably would not know that IP address.

So you must remember that when you use web services such as Gmail there is both the good and the bad. If you are careful then the good will more than outweigh the bad.

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.

Comments

  1. Pretty basic stuff here but it’s important basic stuff.

    There is one big security feature that was missed and Gmail offers it. It’s called Two-Factor Authentication. Basically, after you login with your correct credentials you have to enter a second set of credentials that are sent to your smart phone (via app) You have to enter the numbers generated by the app. Then you gain access to your Gmail.

    Pretty handy if your account password gets compromised. Don’t worry, if you loose your phone you are still okay. Google makes you print out ten random security codes good for one use only. just keep those keys close to the vest!

    bottom line: if you have a smart phone there is absolutely no reason why you should not use Two-Factor Authentication.

    cheers!

    jon

    • Somebody else on Twitter mentioned the exact same thing soon after I posted this article and I thought at the time that I was dumb for not including two-factor authentication in the text. I guess it must have been too obvious!

  2. Great article Lee! I recently had some issues with this myself. Gmail did a great job letting me know that someone (or something) was accessing my account. I finally changed my password (– it is now *just kidding*) and that seems to have resolved it.

    I don’t ever give my password out to anyone so I have no idea how the compromise occured — it was in the netherlands — but everything seems fine now.

    Way to go with the site… it looks great!

    jb

    • WOW!! What a blast from the past!

      I haven’t seen you around in years – how the devil are you Jon?

      I hope you have a long and complex password now Jon – if it is just letters you need to change it again pronto.

Trackbacks

  1. […] wrote recently about Gmail account security and forgot to mention two factor authentication so here is the follow-up post I should have added […]

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