Secure Your Google Account
Secure Your Primary Online Accounts – Part 2: Google
Like other essential online accounts, your Google account needs protecting. A lost phone or password can create serious difficulties when accessing online accounts unless you take precautions.
This column is the second in a three-part series on securing your primary online accounts, including Apple ID, Google, and Facebook. Some of these security measures are also available for online banking, brokerage, and healthcare portal accounts.
Learn why securing your primary online accounts is vital to assuring continued access to email, contacts, files, passwords, and other essential personal data.
Your Google Account
Your Google account is necessary for using and accessing Google products and services. Photos, calendars, contacts, files, and passwords are associated with your Google account. It is required for using the Google Play Store and in-app purchases and enables data sharing across multiple devices. A Google account is necessary to utilize People and Sharing, allowing you to share content, resources like shared calendars, cloud storage space, and other Google services.
I recommend taking the following steps to secure your Google account in case of a forgotten password or a lost device and for additional account protection. To access the security settings for your Google account, open a blank Chrome tab on your computer and click Sign In to log in with your Gmail email address and password. You may already be signed in. You can also use the Settings app on your mobile device.
You can change your password and sign out of your Google account on your devices if you think your account was compromised. Be sure to use a strong password: 12-14 characters in length, one capital letter, one number, and a symbol like a dollar sign or exclamation point. In Settings, click Personal Info and scroll to Password. Google displays the date when you last updated your password. Click Password to change.
Google’s Security Checkup verifies whether you have sign-in and recovery options enabled for your Google account. Google strongly encourages users to use a mobile phone number and alternate email address for additional security, allowing Google to verify your identity while using 2-step verification and establishing methods to recover account access if you forget your password.
Google’s Security Checkup also shows you the devices logged in with your Google account. You can remove your account from a device if it’s no longer in use. In Settings, click Security. Under Security Checkup, click Protect Your Account or Review Security Tips.
Google’s 2-step verification (sometimes called multi-factor authentication) requires having two pieces of information to access your account: 1. Something you know (a password), and 2. Something you have (a verification code).
2-step verification ensures that only you can log in with your Google account and makes resetting a forgotten password much easier and more secure. To enable 2-step verification, you need a mobile phone. In Settings, click Security. Under Signing in to Google, click 2-Step Verification.
Note: you have multiple ways of using 2-step verification. Google displays a prompt on one of your devices by default, allowing you to verify your identity.
Add your mobile phone number as a recovery phone to your Google account to enable 2-step verification. You can use any mobile phone that receives text messages. After entering your phone number, Google sends a verification code to your phone that you must enter to confirm your number. In Settings, click Security. Under Ways we can verify it’s you, select Recovery Phone.
A recovery email enables Google to reach you if they detect unusual account activity or if you become locked out of your account. Your recovery email address should be different than your Gmail email address. In Settings, click Security. Under Ways we can verify it’s you, click Recovery Email.
After successfully using two-factor authentication to log in with your Google account to any device, Google identifies them as Your Devices. Your Devices can receive a verification prompt from Google on login. You can also use Your Devices to locate a missing device (that still has power and network access) and manage your Google account login sessions on all of your devices. Go to Security and Your Devices to continue.
Inactive Account Manager
Inactive Account Manager allows you to specify when your Google account should be considered inactive following a period of inactivity. You also decide who to notify, what data you’ll share, and whether to delete your account. Configuring the Inactive Account Manager should be included in your digital estate planning.
We are at increased risk of losing access to our Google account or delaying account recovery without having one or more security measures in place. Protect access to your contacts, passwords, and more by securing your Google account.
A version of this post appears in the January 2023 edition of Prime Time News.
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