In celebration of the Safer Internet Day, Google details in a blog post the different ways that users could protect their accounts from compromise. While the search giant noted that it is doing its best to protect people's security and privacy, the company also stated that people should still perform several basic steps on their own to strengthen their online security.
Users could prevent malicious individuals from taking control of the person’s accounts by creating unique passwords for different accounts. In a survey conducted in December 2018, 65% of users reuse their password for multiple accounts, with 13% of respondents further saying that they apply the same password for all their accounts.
The search giant noted that using the same password will result in the compromise of multiple accounts once criminals successfully take over one account. Google admits that it could be difficult for users to create and remember multiple passwords, so the search giant recommends people to use password managers or even write down the passwords in a piece of paper stored in a safe place.
Moreover, just in case someone obtains the person’s passwords, using two-factor authentication (2FA) will still prevent other people from controlling user's accounts. The 2FA adds an additional step into the login process that requires anyone logging in to enter codes provided by a text message or an application, respond to a prompt received on a trusted device, or connect a hardware security key. If the person fails to perform the required steps, they will still not gain access to the account even if they know its password.
In the unfortunate occasion of account compromise, setting up a recovery email or mobile device will help online services inform its subscribers of possible suspicious activity. It will also allow users to block people who use the account without permission as well as to regain control of their account.
Meanwhile, people who have Google accounts may easily know the other steps they need to take to improve their online security through the search giant’s Security Checkup feature. Google also advises users to regularly update their software, since these upgrades may contain fixes that resolve security issues that may allow hackers to compromise user accounts
Background: Google repeatedly highlights the importance of online security through posts on its official blog, and it also developed ways that would make it easier for consumers to protect their information online. For example, Google launched the Google Prompt back in 2017, an authentication method that uses trusted devices to verify people’s identities with a single tap. Furthermore, Google also released the Titan Security Keys, which serves a physical defense against security breaches. Since switching to physical security keys, Google states that there has been no successful phishing attempt on its employees.
Impact: While Google and other tech firms continue to develop ways to ensure the security of its users, there are still steps that people must take to ensure that their accounts remain protected. Given that more services are now done online which include communication and banking, compromise of accounts can severely affect a person’s life, so users should take their online security more effectively.