Google tip: 4 ways to lock down your Google account – here&039s the thing

Maybe I shouldn’t say this, but I’ve entrusted a large part of my digital life to google, so much so, in fact, that I’d be in deep trouble if someone hacked my account.

If a hacker were to hijack my google account, they would have free rein over 10+ years of email, nearly all of my work files, all of the addresses I’ve ever looked up on google maps, all of my saved files. google searches… well, you get the idea.

so do you have some, most or all of your personal eggs in the google basket too? if so, you’d be crazy to protect your google account with little more than a single (and potentially easy to crack) password.

The good news is that Google offers a number of tools to beef up your security, and if you’re smart, you’ll turn on as many as you can.

These are four essential ways to lock your google account, starting with…

1. configure two-step verification

No matter how strong your google password is, there’s always a chance (as the recent heartbleed security bug reminds us) that someone else got their hands on it.

This is why you should seriously consider turning on an additional layer of password security, especially if you have something more sensitive than, say, your shopping list stored in gmail or google drive.

Here’s how 2-Step Verification works: In addition to signing in with your password, Google will periodically ask you for a six-digit security code before unlocking your account.

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The constantly changing code is transmitted to your phone via text message or a special google “authenticator” app.

Now, I admit to an occasional tired sigh every time Google brings up a security screen asking for another six-digit authentication code. (You can at least set your pc or mac to only ask for a code from google every 30 days or so).

That said, it’s reassuring to know that a hacker with your google password would have to go through more hoops before unlocking your account and all your valuable data.

Do you want to activate two-step verification? this is how…

  • sign in to google, click your google icon in the top right corner of the page, and then click account.
  • on the next page, click the tab security, look for “2-step verification” in the password section, click the setup link, then follow the steps.

2. check your recent activity

Do you want to know if someone other than you has been poking around in your google account?

There’s an easy way to see your most recent account activity, including the last times someone logged in, their approximate location, their ip address, whether they logged in with a mac or pc, and more.

  • go back to the security tab in your account settings, find the “recent activity” section, then click the “view all events” link.
  • see the list of recent events: And while you’re at it, pay special attention to the map on the right side of the page.
  • Do you see anything suspicious? if so, click “change password” and create a new password, soon.
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3. receive a text message every time there is “suspicious” activity

Like your credit card company, Google constantly checks your account for “suspicious” activity, such as a password change or multiple failed login attempts.

google will send you an email every time it thinks a stranger is snooping around your account. Even better, it can text you, but only if you give it a cell phone number first.

this is what you do…

  • once again, go to the security tab in your account settings, then click the “edit” link under “send phone alerts”.
  • under the heading “notifications”, click “edit” next to “phone number”.
  • enter your number, then click the blue button to get a verification code.
  • back on the notifications page, make sure “phone” is checked as an alert option for both “password change” and “suspicious attempt to access account”.

4. set up a “recovery” phone and email address

so let’s say a hacker manages to break into your account or else you find yourself locked out of google. what now?

The easiest way to prove it’s you is to have Google call or text your mobile number, but again, you’ll need to make sure Google has your digits.

You also need to provide Google with an alternate email address, you know, one where they can send a link to reset a lost or stolen password.

  • once again, click the security tab in the main google settings, then click one of the edit links next to “recovery phone” and “recovery email” on the “Recovery & Alerts” section.
  • Go ahead and fill in the phone number and email address where you want Google to contact you in case something happens to your account.
  • all set?click the blue save button.
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