Tip of the Week: Securing Your Gmail Account

Earlier this month Google announced that a hacker obtained access to hundreds of Gmail accounts, including those of senior U.S. government officials. Account holders found that someone sent emails to all their email contacts, with bogus messages, such as attempts to extract funds from their friends and acquaintances (your classic “mugged in London” scam).

Google provides a new opt-in security feature for their customers, called 2-step verification. It makes your Google account significantly more secure by helping to verify that you’re the real owner of the account. This verification process requires two independent factors for authentication, much like you might see on your banking website.

The Google Blog explains how you can set this up on your account.

In addition, it is a good idea to:

  • choose a unique, hard to crack password
  • make sure you enable the “always use https” option in your Gmail settings
  • set the External Content setting to “ask before displaying external content”
  • check to see if your Gmail messages are being forwarded without your permission
  • check the “last account activity” information, provided in small print at the bottom of each webpage on Gmail

About MIT
IT Security Awareness Consultant and Communications Specialist at MIT

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