Some Proactive and Preventative Measures You Can Take to Protect Your G-mail and Google Accounts From Being Hacked!

On May 10, 2011,  to my surprise and despair, a hacker got control of my G-mail/Google account and because my Gmail/Google account was linked to my Face Book account, this hacker had control of it as well. What an ordeal I am going through right now trying to straighten out this big mess! Why do hackers do what they do?

Since I no longer have control over my own email account and can’t verify ownership, I am changing all of my passwords and changing all of my contact email addresses in all my accounts and so on and so on. Things are definitely NOT in my control right now. Someone has successfully managed to change the password of my Gmail/Google account and now I can’t log in to retrieve my business account and other important emails. I have yet to gain control of my account. However, it really is my own fault. I neglected to put in place some very simple and basic security measures before I first opened my G-mail/Google account.  So, what do I do now? Well, now I know what I should have done in the beginning and BEFORE my account was hacked! These are things that I didn’t do because of my naivety and because I basically trust everyone; but now I must be more on my toes and realize that it is nothing personal. It’s just that there are some very evil and untrustworthy people out there in the world today and I need to be more careful, protect myself, warn others of the dangers of sloppy security mistakes and help to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else if at all possible.

I am having difficulties in verifying ownership of my G-mail/Google account for the following reasons. Either I didn’t pay attention to the security question or I don’t remember answering the question or what I put down for the answer. The security question should be simple to answer and has only one answer, however, I don’t remember what I put as the answer. In the meantime, here is a list of things you can, and should do before opening your G-mail/Google account.

1. Before you open your account, please do some serious planning.  First and foremost, you should “write everything down.” Decide on a desired log in name (write it down) and choose a strong password.  (write it down)

Some tips on choosing passwords:

Passwords should not be words found in the dictionary. Your password length should be at least 8 characters long and have no repeating characters like, ab22xy.  Passwords should be composed of alphanumeric characters, meaning that it contains both letters, CAPS & small, and numbers or even non-alphanumeric, use some special characters if allowed. ( Whatever, write it down)

2. Choose a “Security Question” and write it down or you can write your own question. Whatever question you choose, write it down along with your answer.

3. Create a new email address and set this as your “Secondary” email address for your existing G-mail/Google Accounts. Check for emails on this new account manually or through a desktop client via POP3 / IMAP but do not enable auto-forward for the new email address as the original purpose will be defeated. Choose this new “Secondary” email address as your “Recovery” email address, which in my opinion should “NOT” be another “G-mail” account! Because what if more than one of your “G-mail” accounts are hacked into? Two of my G-mail/Google accounts were compromised! Just a thought! Use a Yahoo! Mail, AT&T or SBC Global email for your “Recovery” email address.

4. Log-in to your G-mail/Google Account and associate a phone number. This is useful because you’ll then receive an SMS text message whenever someone tries to recover your Google password. To do this log in and click on “Settings .” Then click on “Accounts and Import.” Scroll down to the bottom and click on “Google Account Settings.” Now you can edit your “Personal Settings,” e.g. your password, your recovery email address,
(
reminder: don’t use another “G-mail” address for your recovery email address.
)
Here is where you can associate a phone number with your account. You can also edit your security question.

5.  Get some paper and write down the following information about your G-mail/Google Account. You will need this to verify your identify to Google in case someone else takes over your Google Account and the “Secondary” or “Recovery” email address associated with your account.

  • The month and year when your created your G-mail/Google Account. The last page of your G-mail Inbox should help you determine that (or Sent Items) to get an approximate idea of the date when you created the account.
  • If you created a G-mail account by invitation, ( for security reasons though, I would never, ever click on any links in an invitation from someone I didn’t know asking me to open an email account! Just don’t do it! You need to be in control of your own destiny so just start fresh and go to Yahoo! Mail, AT&T or SBC Global directly ) write the email address of the person who first sent you that invite for G-mail. Use a search query like “in:all has invited you to open a free G-mail account” to find that invitation email.
  • The email addresses of your most frequently emailed contacts (top 5 will work).
  • The names of any custom labels that you may have created in your G-mail account.
  • The day/month/year when you started using various other Google services (like Blogger, Adsense, or Orkut, etc.) that are associated with the Google account that you are trying to recover. If you’re not certain about some of the dates, provide your closest estimate.

6. It goes without saying but do not use the same password for your main G-mail/Google  account and your “Secondary” or “Recovery” email address.

7. If you choose to access G-mail and other Google services over a Wi-Fi network, make sure that you always use the secure URLs like https://gmail.com. Go to Gmail settings and set ‘Browser Connection’ to ‘Always use https.’ This could make your G-mail access a bit slower but your account will be more secure.

8. Once in a while, you should refer to a little line in the footer section of your G-mail/Google inbox that shows the different IP addresses from where your account is being accessed. Scroll down to the bottom of your first page and click on “details.” If you find an unknown IP address, change your G-mail/Google password immediately.

9. You should also consider copying emails from G-mail to another service ( like Yahoo! Mail, AT&T or SBC Global ) so when your G-mail account is compromised, you at least have access to all your previous emails. You can also configure a desktop email client like Outlook or Thunderbird with your G-mail account (via POP3 or IMAP) and thus you’ll have an automatic offline backup of your G-mail Inbox.

10. Take the time and change your password every so often, every 30-45  days!

11. And finally, do  a test run. Log out of all your G-mail/Google Accounts and initiate the password recovery process for each one of them using this form. This will help you make sure that your SMS settings and  “Secondary” or “Recovery” email addresses are configured correctly.

In conclusion, be ready to expect the unexpected. Why do hackers do what they do. I know for a fact they get together and have “hacking” contests to see who can hack into the most accounts the quickest. Until they get caught and have to spend some time in jail, and I mean a real jail, not one of these country clubs where they have special privileges like watching TV, reading, playing ping pong and the like. They should be locked up in a place where they only get one hour a day out of their little concrete cell and have to fight other inmates over food and water, then they might realize how much agony they are causing innocent people.

Here is some anti-hacking software I recommend for your Word Press blog.

WordPress Security System Blog Lock Down. This 90 Page Tutorial Walks You Step By Step Through The Simple Process Of Protecting Your WordPress Blog From Hackers. Perfect For Newbies Or Advanced WordPress Users. Protect Your WordPress Blog’s Profits With Blog Lock Down.

Click Here!

 

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