By Niraj Ranjan Rout
Is Gmail safe for work? Yes, Google has built a secure and robust environment for your data. Emails are encrypted. Apps need permission before accessing your emails. There are hundreds of measures already in place.
But, you have to be vigilant as well. I’d recommend keeping an eye for anything amiss. This article is a quick reminder of the things you’d want to do to keep your data safe.
Review apps and extensions that have access to your data
A good deal of apps and extensions connected to your Gmail takes permission to access your emails. If one of them gets hacked, your email account is at risk too. There have been some instances of not-very-well-known apps selling people’s information to third parties.
The problem is that we don’t give much thought to security before adding an extension to our browser. We’re just focused on solving the problem. And installing apps or extensions takes little time—we often try them out and forget about it completely.
You’d want to check and remove the apps and extensions you are not using. You can always head over to this page to see (and manage) apps that have access to your data.
Perform Google Security checkup every month or so
I am sure you have a few devices that have access to your Gmail account—your laptop, phone, tablet, probably a home PC too. Most of us do not update them as often as we should.
Oh, let’s not forget the apps you add to your phone through your email address. A recent report shows that over 3000 iOS and Andriod mobile apps leak private user data.
And then there could be loopholes in your Gmail setting (such as two-factor authentication not active).
It’s a good idea to perform a security checkup every month or so. Anything suspicious in your Gmail account—can be found here—and resolving them takes just a few clicks (you don’t have to know how to code).
Take a moment before sending sensitive information via email
When you share sensitive information via email, it makes sense to know if the recipient’s inbox is as secure as yours. One thing you can do before sending a sensitive email to someone: check the encryption status of the message.
If you’re on G Suite: To the right side of the sender’s name, a ‘green lock’ pops us. It signals that your email is going to be encrypted. It means your email can only be read by the person you’re sending it to.
If you don’t see the ‘green lock’, your email isn’t encrypted and can be seen by a 3rd party, in which case, you shouldn’t send the email if it is highly sensitive. If you have no choice but to send the email, you can send a self-destructing email. The email will not sit around in the receiver’s inbox forever.
Google recently added the Confidential Mode. It lets users block copying, downloading, forwarding, or printing of emails by the person who receives the email.
Exercise caution in public places
There would always be situations when you have to access your work Gmail account on public wifi. It’s almost like handing over your email to hackers on a silver platter.
There are a few things you can do to keep your data safe:
Use a paid VPN service: In case you’re wondering why not a free VPN—there is always a chance that they are selling your data. A paid VPN service will not just encrypt your email, it will make browsing the internet absolutely safe.
Access emails in the incognito mode: When you sign in to your email account, the browser saves all sorts of cookies, trackers, and passwords—you don’t want that happening on public wifi or public computers.
Use your on-screen keyboard to type in your Gmail username and password: Some public wifi networks might be able to track your keystrokes.
Endnote: Check if your account has ever been compromised
Would you like to know if your information has even been leaked? Visit haveibeenpwned and it will tell you if your information was ever leaked? If yes, you’d also know which app(s) caused that.
The author is the Co-founder and CEO of Hiver.