VirtualThreat, Contributing Writer
Simple Tools To See If Your Google Account is Hacked
A recent string of high-profile attacks, including the breach against Yahoo Mail servers, has been the focus of technology media outlets over the past few weeks. It appears that no cloud-based service is safe from malicious hackers these days.
Google’s Gmail is another hugely popular free email service with hundreds of millions of users. Almost everyone I know has a Gmail account. You need to remember that this one Google account, and it’s login details, are used for all of Google’s services, not just Gmail. This account is used for YouTube, Google Drive and all of your Android devices, among other things.
With so much data available through this one account, hackers are always on the lookout for a way in. The majority of people don’t use secure passwords, so breaking into your email is unfortunately not much of a challenge for most hackers. Fortunately, Google provides a couple of simple methods to find out if anyone else has been accessing your account. This way, you can find out if you’ve been hacked prior to receiving all of those email replies from your friends asking why you are sending them links to Viagra sites and malware-infected videos of Superbowl ads.
To see who has been accessing your account, go to the Google Security Settings page and click on the link under “Recent Activity” that says “View All Events“. This will take you to a list showing the times, locations and IP addresses of anyone accessing your account. There is even a map showing the originating location for each access event.
Let’s hope your recent activity page doesn’t look like this one. (err…unless of course you are indeed from Romania or Germany 🙂
Gmail offers a similar “Recent Activity” service that you can access directly from your inbox. To use this security feature, simply scroll to the bottom of your inbox at Gmail.com. On the right side of the page, you’ll see a message that says Last account activity: X minutes/hours/days ago. Beneath that line, you’ll see a link that say “Details.”
Clicking the “Details” link will take you to a list showing all recent access to your account. In the image below, you can see that this user typically logs in from California. However there is one entry showing a login from Poland. This is a pretty good indicator that this account has been compromised. If you notice activity that doesn’t look familiar you need to change your password immediately! You may even want to consider enabling Google’s 2-Step Validation feature on your account for added security.
If you use the above information, you can stay a little bit safer online. Get in the habit of checking for suspicious activity on a regular basis. While these “Recent Activity” lists are helpful, they are only really informative after an attacker has gained access to your account. I also recommend enabling Google’s 2-Step Verification on your account. This will add an extra layer of security to your Google cloud, helping keep would-be attackers at bay. If you store files on Google Drive I would also suggest encrypting your files with a product like SkyCrypt.
Stay safe! 🙂
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