Today, February 11 is Safer Internet Day, and as always Google’s homepage has a reminder at the bottom asking users to do a full security check up for their accounts. Given that Google account is linked to Android phones, it is best to do a security check on a regular basis for this.
A security check for your Gmail or Google account will highlight any weak points, and also ask you to follow steps in order to fix any potential lapses. Here’s how it works.
Security Check for Google Account: How to do this?
If you go to the Google Search home page, be it on desktop or mobile, the link for a security check of your account is present below the Search bar. The link is much more prominent on the mobile search page and appears immediately below the Search bar.
Just click on “Take a 2-minute Security Checkup to strengthen your account,” and you will be taken to the security check page. Once you are here, Google will showcase all the issues that exist with your account, which are possible security lapses and could compromise your account.
All green ticks mean that you have followed the right steps and there are no known issues with the Google Account.
If you have multiple devices, where you have signed in with Google, the security checkup might highlight if any device which does not have a screen lock or a device where you might have signed in a few months back and forgot to sign out.
If you see a device which you do not remember signing into, then it is best to remove it from your account and change your account password.
Google will also highlight any security event that might have taken place such as if your Google account was signed into a new device. If you do not recognise the device, then say No and change password and follow other steps to secure your account.
Security Check for Google Account: Two-step verification
If you have not turned on two-step verification for your Google account, then it is a good day to do so. You can turn it on from the Security Check option itself. Two-step verification ensures that every time you sign into a new computer, browser, or smartphone with your Google account, a one-time password (OTP) is required.
In two-step verification, you can add a mobile phone and a backup mobile number to receive these codes. If your mobile number or backup number has changed, then you should update these details.
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Google also has an option for a Prompt instead of an OTP code. In this, you can tap Yes on a Google prompt which is sent to a chosen device, instead of entering a verification code each time you want to login. Tapping yes, will allow the sign-in.
Security Check for Google Account: Google Authenticator
Instead of relying on SMS or Google Prompt, you can also set up the Google Authenticator app to generate codes and sign into the Google Account. This can also be activated from the Google Account settings.
Just go to 2-step verification and scroll down and you will see Authenticator as one of the options below the Google Prompt feature.
Download the Authenticator app on your iPhone or Android device. Then on the Google Account settings, choose the Authenticator app as an option.
A QR code will appear. In the App, select Set up account.
Choose scan barcode and once the code is scanned, this will be activated. The codes generated on Authenticator only last a few seconds, and are re-generated.
Security Check for Google Account: Security Key
This is another verification method where you can use your phone or a Bluetooth powered security key to control access to your account. Phones running Android 7.0+ come in with built-in security keys and can be used to verify account log in. The iPhone also comes with built-in security key.
Alternately, you can purchase a separate key to sign into the Google account. These are physical keys which need to plugged into the USB port of the computer to sign in.
Security Check for Google Account: How to use your Android phone as a security key
On your Android phone, go to myaccount.google.com/security, and select 2-Step Verification.
Scroll to “Set up alternative second step” and tap Add security key.
Select your Android phone and then Add. You should see a confirmation that your phone was added as a security key.
Use your phone’s built-in key to sign in to new devices. Make sure Bluetooth is turned on for both devices.
Sign in on the new device: On a computer, sign in to your Google Account using a supported browser such as Chrome. On an iPhone or iPad, you will need the Smart Lock app from Google.
Check your Android phone for a notification. Double-tap the “Are you trying to sign in?” notification. Follow the instructions to confirm it’s you signing in.
Security Check for Google Account: Third party app access
You can also review which third-party apps have access to your Google Account. If you see an app you authorised long back or do not remember authorising, it is time to revoke this access.
Security Check for Google Account: Password check
If you have saved passwords for other websites on your Chrome browser, Google will also let you do a password check for the same today.
It will inform you if any of your passwords are compromised, while pointing out reused passwords and also prompt you to recreate stronger passwords where needed.
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