Several handy tips for discovering if your Gmail account has been compromised by hackers.
Hackers are always trying to gain access to the email accounts of unsuspecting users, and unless you’re vigilant it can have disastrous consequences if they’re successful. Email providers like Google, for example, provide ever expanding storage space in which tons of emails containing sensitive personal information can be stored. A hacked email account can also be used to reset passwords for third-party sites like Amazon.com, eBay, or your financial institution, leading to the leak of sensitive banking information, credit card numbers, purchasing history, and more. Hackers can use Gmail’s contacts list to wage phishing attacks on friends and family members in your name.
For many the breach can go unnoticed for some time as we take it for granted that our email account is safe and secure. “It could never happen to me” seems to be a common refrain, but we forget that many times we’re logging into our Gmail accounts from unsecure locations like coffee shops and libraries where hackers can easily sniff Wi-Fi traffic and pick up user names and passwords.
If you suspect your Gmail account has been hacked or just want to make sure it hasn’t I’ll run through the steps necessary to find out for sure. I’ll also go over how to make your Gmail account even more secure to prevent future hacks.
Go to “Last Account Activity”
Open your Gmail account. Beneath the right-hand part of your Gmail inbox you’ll see the words “Last account activity” and a link for “Details.” Select “Details.”
Check Your Recent Login Activity
In the screen that appears you’ll see a list for all the “Activity on this account.” It’ll list your login sessions by “Activity Type” (browser, mobile, POP3, etc.), IP address, and the date and time your account was accessed.
Verify Correct IP Address Access
Does anything look suspicious? Did you access your Gmail account with a mobile device at 4 o’clock in the morning, for example? How about the IP addresses? If you see more than one you’ll want to make sure their from the places you’ve accessed your account, or at the very least from the right city and country.
Not sure what the IP address is for your location? It’s listed at the bottom, “The computer is using IP address ‘xxxxx’ (Country (State/Province)).” Does it match with what’s listed above it?
Google offers a free IP address lookup option; simply type “what is my IP address” in the browser. Check to make sure the numbers match up (keep in mind proxies, VPNs, etc. will distort the results).
Check for Concurrent Activity
The activity information screen will also tell you if your account is open in an another location. If it is select “Sign out all other sessions” and change your password immediately just in case.
Change Your Password
The days of using basic words or phrases are over. Gmail crackers using simple Dictionary attacks have made it easier than ever before to hack your account. A quick tip for creating secure and memorable passwords is to combine two or more words.
cat + dog = cdaotg.
Sprinkle some numbers and capital letters in there to be even safer.
CAT + dog + 491 = Cd4Ao9Tg1
Good luck trying to hack a password that’s “Cd4Ao9Tg1.”
Check Authorized Sites, Apps, and Services
I know of friends that have had their Gmail accounts compromised repeatedly, and all have failed to check what sites, apps, and services have been granted access to their accounts. Go HERE and check to see what is listed. Select “Revoke Access” for anything you’ve never heard of, or simply no longer want to allow access your to your Gmail account. The few the better is my motto.
[email protected] | @jaredmoya