There's a good chance Google holds most of your data out of all your online accounts. Your Gmail account holds an abundance of personal information, from bank statements to personal letters, and even requests for password resets.
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What if somebody got access to and hack your Google Account? That would cover all the important files you have. Scary thought, huh? Now is the time to ensure your account is as safe as possible.
Use a strong password
At some point, almost everyone is guilty of reusing basic passwords. However, reusing passwords across multiple sites and services merely asks for the hacking of your accounts. All it takes is one service leak or intrusion, and hackers will start trying to sign in to all of your accounts.
It is time to step up your game of passwords by using unique passwords that are created randomly for every online account you have. It's easy to keep track of all those passwords when you're using a password manager. If you need help choosing which one to use, there are best password managers available online, both free and payable.
To change your password for Google Account, visit the Google Account Security page and click on password in the Google Sign-In section. If prompted, verify your password, enter your new password - created by your password manager - and then click Change password.
Enable two-step verification
Without a two-step verification, also known as two-factor authentication, hackers need only your password to access your entire Google account - including YouTube, Gmail, and Google Pay. Remember, if you reuse multiple services with the same password, they could get it from a data breach or through a phishing scam.
Two-factor authentication (2FA) adds one stage to the method of login. You'll be prompted to enter a temporary code after entering your username and password by visiting your Google account security page and clicking on 2-Step Verification. It is used to make sure you sign up, and not just someone with your credentials. Securing all your accounts with 2FA undoubtedly worth it.
With this service, Google provides a few options; an authenticator app (like Google Authenticator or Authy) or an SMS code. You might also be able to set up an authentication prompt on your phone while using an Android app.
Check your backup contact methods
You may have changed your phone number when you first set up your Gmail account, or you may have left an old email account. And it's a good idea to double-check the contact methods for backup. This is what Google would use to verify you are the account owner should you be locked out of your account.
Visit this page and browse the section titled How we can verify that you are.
Tap on each section - Recovery phone, Recovery email question, and Security question - and update it with current information.
Sadly, if this information is obsolete and you are locked out of your account, Google can not check whether you own the account.
Look at account activity
Without your knowledge, a hacker (or ex) may access your account. Sign in to your Gmail account to search and scroll down to the bottom of the page. You can see a line that says, "Last account activity..."
Click Details at the end of the line to see when, how, and where the account will be used. If you suspect any suspicious behavior or activity, then press the Sign Out of all other Gmail web sessions button and change your password immediately.
Now that you have your Gmail account protected take a few more minutes to lock your other social media accounts while you're at it.