- How secure is Gmail?
- Should you get a Gmail alternative?
- 8 Ways to improve Gmail’s privacy and security
How secure is Gmail?
Gmail is relatively secure, though it’s not completely safe. Gmail is encrypted with TLS — Transport Layer Security — while transferring your data, and it protects your emails at rest with industry-standard 128-bit encryption. While it’s better than no protection at all, we recommend learning how to encrypt Gmail with stronger encryption than it provides.
See, even though Gmail can protect you from some outside threats, as an email provider, it also wants to gather data from your messages. After initially employing real humans to read user emails, Google started using bots to scan emails and collect valuable information about users.
In the past, Google has also given their partners full access to users’ Gmail account emails. It wasn’t just bots but real human beings from other companies who were reading Gmail users’ emails without their knowledge.
Should you get a Gmail alternative?
If you truly care about your privacy, deal with sensitive information, or shiver at the thought of someone reading your emails, you should consider enhancing your Gmail account’s security (or looking for privacy-oriented Gmail alternatives).
Privacy-oriented email providers make money selling premium plans rather than ads or selling your data. They also use end-to-end encryption giving you excellent security. End-to-end encryption helps prevent your data from being intercepted. If Google had utilized end-to-end encryption with their own services, many would not be looking for better alternatives. Some of the email providers even integrate burner emails, anonymous payment, masses of storage, spam filters, MITM attack protection, and free trials – so there’s no reason to sacrifice your privacy anymore.
But, if you’re accustomed to Gmail don’t despair, you don’t have to find another email provider. Gmail encryption, a password manager and even a Gmail security checklist can help boost your protection. Here are 8 ways you can quickly increase your Gmail account security and privacy now.
8 Ways to improve Gmail’s security
Follow these eight steps to improve your Gmail security.
1. Encrypt your Gmail
Encrypt your Gmail account emails to make sure that no one snooping on you – not even Google – can read them. There are many third-party plugins to choose from, and some may require more technical know-how than others.
2. Use strong passwords
Gmail encryption is important, but so is having a strong password. If your password is ‘password123’ or something similarly easy, you’re in trouble. If you use it for all of your accounts, that’s even worse. Most people use weak passwords. They can be easily guessed or have previously leaked in one of many data breaches, which makes hackers job fairly easy. Learn how to create strong passwords and keep them safe with a password manager.
Worringly, we’re still not very smart when it comes to passwords. NordPass found that the most common password in 2021 was “123456” used by over 100 million people. The second most common password was a slightly more complex “123456789.” (Not so brilliant if you want to outsmart hackers). Invest in a password manager instead of having to resort to extremely common passwords.
3. Use 2-step verification
Make sure you activate 2-factor authentication (2FA). With 2FA, you will need a password as well as a unique code sent to your phone to access your account. It adds an extra step to your login process; however, that means that it will make it twice as hard to break into your Gmail account. Combine this method with Gmail encryption and hackers will have a very hard time breaking into your account.
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4. Learn to recognize phishing attempts
If you click on a suspicious link or open a malicious attachment sent to your email address, there’s a high chance that your device or your Gmail app will get infected with malware. However, it’s easy to learn to recognize phishing attempts and identify which email attachments are generally safe to open.
Phishing emails and messages rise year-on-year, and they can be pretty brutal. In 2021, a phishing email delivered ransomware into the systems of the American Colonial Pipeline company, causing massive disruption to fuel supplies across the eastern US. Even Apple and Meta have been tricked by phishing emails, when they handed over user data to hackers posing as fake police. In other cases, ordinary people have lost savings and retirement funds to hackers posing as bank officials and postal companies.
PRO TIP: Make sure to check your Sent box regularly. If your account has been compromised, hackers might send phishing emails to your contacts, so if you see any emails that you didn’t send that’s a major warning sign.
5. Regularly update your operating system
All the Gmail encryption in the world won’t help if you’re running on out of date software. Sometimes, the security of your Gmail app depends on the security of your device. Make sure toupdate your operating system and your browser regularly. The latest updates usually patch vulnerabilities hackers can use to break into your device.
Software updates might also reveal new features in an app or program, as well as secure your data with vital security updates. So it’s always a good idea to keep all of your devices running the latest software.
6. Regularly check your Gmail activity
For better Gmail security, keep an eye on your Gmail account for suspicious activities, as well as what devices are logged into it and where. At the same time, beware of a Google security alert scam, which comes in the form of a bogus security message claiming that someone has tried to access your account. Sometimes, hackers will secretly leech your information without leaving clear signs that someone has access to your account. Follow these steps regularly to check whether your Gmail hasn’t been hacked.
7. Use VPN on a public Wi-Fi
If you need to check your emails on public Wi-Fi, make sure you use a VPN. It will encrypt your traffic so hackers snooping on the traffic won’t be able to see your data and can hide your IP address.
In fact, most of us still don’t know how dangerous public Wi-Fi can be. When you connect to public Wi-Fi, your browsing activity could be exposed to a hacker if they have managed to compromise the router.
NordVPN encrypts your internet connection and shields your IP information, giving you more security and privacy. Always use a VPN when you’re in coffee shops, airports, hotels, and shopping malls to ensure that you’re optimally protected.
Moreover, NordVPN’s Threat Protection feature will also help you identify malware-ridden files, stop you from landing on malicious websites, and block trackers and intrusive ads on the spot.
8. Complete Google’s security checklist
Go through Google’s security checklist and see whether there’s anything else you can change in your settings to improve your Gmail’s safety. If you’re absolutely privacy-focused, try out these email providers which provide you with encrypted messages. Changing email provider can be a pain, however. If you want to stick with Gmail, it can’t hurt to investigate the Google security checklist.
Protect your Gmail account with NordVPN, providing some of the best online privacy around.