Google account has become one of the most valuable thing in my life. I am talking about both my digital life and also the physical life here.
There are too many Google services that I use, starting from search and Gmail, and there is a lot of my data stored on Google servers. Location history and other kind of digital imprints leave a trace of my everyday life on Google servers.
It sometimes makes me scared, and I sit there worrying about possible hacks and data leaks. This time however, on this new years day, I decided to act.
I decided to do a security audit of my Google account. I am not a security expert, and this in no way is a comprehensive or scientific audit. However, these are the things that anyone with a basic understanding of the internet can do.
One of things that I notice in the early stages is that Google offers a lot of tools and resources for the security conscious to keep things safe. You will see me quoting from lots of such resources and also asking you to check out some of their own tools.
A good + official place to start is the Gmail Security Checklist. You will see lot of things from this list being repeated here in this article.
How Old Is Your Password
When was the last time you changed your Google account password? If it is too old, go ahead and change it a more secure password now. Also review your account recovery options and make sure that the information provided there is correct.
Apps Connected to Your Google Account
I log in to many apps and website using my Google account. I do not use many of them on a regular basis, and I have stopped using a few. As part of my account audit, I decided to take a look at those apps and remove permissions for things I no longer use.
You can do this from here. Select any item and click Revoke to remove the permission.
If you have used Google Plus to sign in to apps and websites, this page explains how to remove such permissions.
Check Who Access Your Gmail Account
Google shows IP addresses from where your Google account was recently access from. Review this regularly. Here is the official Google Help article on this.
Additional Accounts Added to Gmail
If you have added any additional accounts to your Gmail account, go through those accounts and remove anything that you no longer need.
You can do this from Gmail > Settings > Accounts and Import tab.
Tip: If you have additional accounts, leave “Mark conversation as read when opened by others” checked. This will help you know when someone else reads your email without authorization.
Also, check your email forwarding also from the same tab.
Here are some pointers if you are looking for some more tips to keep your Google account secured.
- Keep your computer safe. Malware on computers are risky for your Google accounts too.
- Enable Google’s two step authentication.
- Make sure that you are using the latest version of all the software and your operating system.
- Take extra precaution while logging into your Google account from a public computer
- Review Google’s Safety Center
I hope you now know how to start a Google Account security audit. I will update this page if I find more tips, but be sure to drop me a comment if you have one or two items to add to this list!