Don't Let Your GMail Account Get Hacked - Help Is At Hand

This happened to one of my friends recently, he went to sign in to his GMail account as he had done a thousand times before, but this time it wouldn't accept his password. He did what you would expect, contacting his friends to see if they were also having problems with GMail? Of course we weren't. It took a full 48 hours for it to sink in properly that his GMail account had been hacked and he'd lost control. This guy is not a computer novice, he's an IT manager. Now just spend 5 minutes thinking about what information YOUR Gmail account contains, personal details, username/passwords for other services? With GMail we have all been encouraged to not delete mail, to keep everything. This is fine as long as we're the only ones who can access that information!

How Secure Is GMail, How Can It Be Hacked?

Google are minted. They have lots of money with which to head hunt and pay some of the brightest programmers in the world. Combine that with SSL security and you can be sure there are no easy ways of hacking a GMail account, lets face it the same authentication system also secures both the Adsense and Adwords portals which are worth several billion dollars! The truth is that if your GMail account has been hacked then the likely hood is that it's user error. There is no "magic" hack program that is going to reveal your GMail password in 20 seconds (no matter how many videos people post to You Tube!). Either your account has been hacked via social means, somebody has researched you enough to guess your password or you have made the cardinal mistake when using online systems. You've used the same e-mail/username and password combination to access another website? Go on admit it, you've done it haven't you? This is exactly what my friend had done, even with all his experience he was in the habit of using the same e-mail address and password for accessing most systems. His GMail account hadn't been hacked, in fact his eBay account had been hacked (something which is very common) by Nigerian scammers who were trying to use it to buy stuff on eBay. When that didn't work (eBay identified the unusual activity and suspended the account) they tried the same user and password combination on GMail and bingo, they were straight in. Their next step was to try and sell the account back, cheeky b'stards! If you want to know how your GMail account was hacked then I'd suggest it was something similar, you've used the same authentication details on other systems that are less secure. eBay is the greatest example of this, I don't know why but I know personally of 6 people who have had their eBay accounts hijacked in recent years, including me. They obviously have some serious security issues, the scary thing is that they also run PayPal. Luckily for me I never use the same password twice and so once my eBay account was closed there was nothing they could do.

How Can I Protect My GMail Account

There are a couple of very straight forward things you can do to ensure the security of your Gmail account:-

  1. Only ever sign in to your GMail account using the secure site (not Especially on public access PCs like internet cafes.
  2. Create a nice long password that contains letters, number and other characters
  3. DO NOT use your GMail email account and password to sign in to other online services. Create a new unrelated password.

Do those and there is very little somebody can do to hack your GMail account other than guess your password. Unless somebody has a very good reason for accessing your account most people aren't going to bother with the months of social research.

I've Been Hacked, Help

Oh bugger! OK, first things first, try Google's forgotten password function. You might just be very lucky and the hacker may not have changed your alternative e-mail address. If that didn't work (you didn't get the change password message from GMail) then you can go 1 of 2 ways. You can either leave your account for 7 days and then try the forgotten password again, if the person who took your account hasn't accessed it for those days it will then ask you to answer your security questions. This will only work if the hacker also hasn't changed your security questions! The other option is to use this form. You'll need to answer some details to confirm that the account is yours such as contacts who you mail regularly, labels etc If you're curious I'd suggest you try it now just to see if you could answer all the questions, basically the more info you can give them the quicker Google will give your GMail account back to you. They say it takes 4-10 days to investigate, my friend had his back in 12 hours! If your GMail account had account details for others services saved in the messages then don't take any chances, sign in and change those details as soon as possible.

GMail is an awesome mail system and one that many of us rely on totally. With the extra storage space has come a culture of keeping everything. Just think how much sensitive information your GMail account contains and act accordingly, would you want to give out your username and password to any old stranger? If the answers no then be sure to keep it unique and not use it anywhere else. My friends experience was a big wake up call to all of those in my social network and was a very scary experience for him personally. Google have the programmers to help secure our data, we need to make sure that we help them out as much as possible. Keep it unique, keep it safe and don't let your GMail account get hacked.