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Securing your Google Account

One of the common questions that get asked in Gmail and the Google Accounts Help Communities is about ways to keep Google Accounts secure. Knowing what to do when one suspects things can help better manage those situations and initiate the necessary actions to mitigate any imminent threats. 

The easiest way to check for unauthorized account access/suspicious activity is to click on the Details link below the Last account activity link at the bottom of the Gmail Inbox page. It includes any time that your email was accessed using a regular web browser, a POP client, a mobile device, etc. and lists the IP address that accessed your email, the associated location, as well as the time and date. If you find any suspicious IP addresses that may have been used to compromise your account (use a reverse IP lookup such as the https://whatismyipaddress.com/ip-lookup or http://ip-lookup.net) to acquire more details about the IP and confirm that it is (or not) something suspicious. 

I have written a blog post that explains the entries in the Gmail Account Information window - https://blogs-on-gmail.blogspot.com/2021/11/explaining-entries-in-gmail-account.html. Please review it for additional details.

Check under Gmail settings for any change in your POP/IMAP, Forwarding and Mail delegation settings.




Note: If you happen to use any other Google products or services extensively, look under their individual settings, especially those related to security, ownership and sharing.

Check for any unknown extensions, add-ons, scripts added to your browser(s).
You can visit the Google Accounts devices activity page - https://myaccount.google.com/device-activity to check on the recent devices used to access your account and Sign out of them by clicking the 3-dot (more/overflow) icon at the top-right corner of individual device tile.

You can also look at the various apps and sites with access to your account: https://myaccount.google.com/permissions.


Also, visit https://myaccount.google.com/accountlinking to check on the third-party account you may want to unlink from your Google Account. 

If you have 2-step verification enabled, it is always a good idea to review and if required, remove app passwords and remove trusted computers.
Finally, to secure your Google account, you can go through the help article Make your account more secure. Also, depending on the security enabled on your Google Account, try to enable more stringent security measures like:
  1. 2-step verification: https://support.google.com/accounts/answer/185839?co=GENIE.Platform%3DDesktop&hl=en&oco=0.
  2. Advanced Protection Program: https://support.google.com/accounts/answer/7519408?hl=en.
Additionally, if you feel threatened by what's happening, contact your local law enforcement or cybercrimes division or seek legal counsel on the options available to you as per the laws of the land. Google or the volunteers in the Help Communities can't help you on these matters.

Also, you may need to get your devices and other peripherals checked. I'd suggest that you consider running a reputed anti-virus, anti-spyware, and anti-malware on all suspicious devices and if required, call up or visit support for your devices for a detailed check. 

If there is a need to get your Android device factory reset or the hard drive of your computer formatted/changed, please review the following articles to prevent getting locked out:

  1. Checklist before you (or you allow someone else to) perform a factory reset on your device - https://support.google.com/accounts/thread/75668397?hl=en.
  2. Keep your Google Account accessible - https://blogs-on-gmail.blogspot.com/2021/10/keep-your-google-account-accessible.html.
You may also contact your ISP and or the carrier/cellular service provider to ensure the settings are not compromised in any way.

I hope the suggestions mentioned above helps. If you have any additional questions or seek further clarification on the details discussed above, please let them in the comments below. For any queries related to your Google account identity, security or recovery, please post in the specialized Google Accounts Help Community here - https://support.google.com/accounts/community?hl=en.

Comments

  1. I forgot my gmail password. I do ALL of the steps multiple times, I click on send a code via Text Message. I never receive the text message with the code. I am using my cell phone and laptop which I've been using for over a year to sign into gmail. Same devices. I sometimes receive the code via Text, but it comes 10 minutes or later after, so it is expired. HELP!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The best place for account specific issues is the Google Accounts help community - https://support.google.com/accounts/community?hl=en. All I shall post here is for you to check with your cellular service provider on why the delay happens and to ensure you have other backup plans like Google Authenticator app or backup codes to sign in to your account. (Assuming the code you have issues with is related to 2SV).

      Delete

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