I learned something major today…and you might benefit from this, too!
I booted my computer this morning – and opened my browser to sign in to Gmail. While that was happening, I casually looked at the sign in page, taking in the info there. It always tickles me to see the “free storage” ticker (and counting…) when I frequently get the message at the top of my mailbox, informing me that I am on the verge of overshooting that massive storage space. Why, is another story. This post is about something else.
I happened to notice the headlines at the left hand bottom corner of the page which showed a link to the Google Online Security Blog – and curiously, clicked through to read the post. It is apparently National Cyber Security Awareness Month and the link was about what we can do to better protect our Google Account.
I think everyone should read this post – here is an excerpt of the kickass tips:
Stay one step ahead of the bad guys
Account hijackers prey on the bad habits of the average Internet user. Understanding common hijacking techniques and using better security practices will help you stay one step ahead of them.
The most common ways hijackers can get access to your Google password are:
- Password re-use: You sign up for an account on a third-party site with your Google username and password. If that site is hacked and your sign-in information is discovered, the hijacker has easy access to your Google Account.
- Malware: You use a computer with infected software that is designed to steal your passwords as you type (“keylogging”) or grab them from your browser’s cache data.
- Phishing: You respond to a website, email, or phone call that claims to come from a legitimate organization and asks for your username and password.
- Brute force: You use a password that’s easy to guess, like your first or last name plus your birth date (“Laura1968”), or you provide an answer to a secret question that’s common and therefore easy to guess, like “pizza” for “What is your favorite food?”
As you can see, hijackers have many tactics for stealing your password, and it’s important to be aware of all of them.
Take control of your account security across the web
Online accounts that share passwords are like a line of dominoes: When one falls, it doesn’t take much for the others to fall, too. This is why you should choose unique passwords for important accounts like Gmail (your Google Account), your bank, commerce sites, and social networking sites. We’re also working on technology
Choosing a unique password is not enough to secure your Google Account against every possible threat. That’s why we’ve created an easy-to-use checklist to help you secure your computer, browser, Gmail, and Google Account. We encourage you to go through the entire checklist, but want to highlight these tips: that adds another layer of protection beyond your password to make your Google Account significantly more secure.
- Never re-use passwords for your important accounts like online banking, email, social networking, and commerce.
- Change your password periodically, and be sure to do so for important accounts whenever you suspect one of them may have been at risk. Don’t just change your password by a few letters or numbers (“Aquarius5” to “Aquarius6”); change the combination of letters and numbers to something unique each time.
- Never respond to messages, non-Google websites, or phone calls asking for your Google username or password; a legitimate organization will not ask you for this type of information. Report these messages to us so we can take action. If you responded and can no longer access your account, visit our account recovery page.
There was also a useful comment about how you can protect yourself: Here it is:
NSK, Inc. said… What a lot of Google users don’t realize is how much personal data is actually stored in their Google accounts.
Not only are emails stored in the cloud but so are:
- Chats within Gmail
- Credit Card Info from Checkout
- Google Map Searches
- Phone calls made using Voice
- Web History
To limit your exposure of personal data from your Google account should it become compromised –
The first thing to do is to go to the Google Homepage and (while signed in) click on Settings then Account Settings.
You will see a link underneath your Personal Setting for the Dashboard that says “View Data” on this account.
You can then adjust your settings (and pause your Web History so that Google won’t record your Internet Activity).
So – take action to ensure your security across the web, not just on Google.
- Run regular virus scans,
- don’t re-use your passwords, and
- keep your software and account recovery information up to date.
These simple yet powerful steps can make a difference when it really counts.