How to Secure and Recover Your Gmail and Google Apps Accounts

google_account_hacked_thumbAmit Agarwal of Digital Inspiration lived through a cloud computing nightmare and survived to blog about it. Last week someone hacked into his GMail and Google Apps account, which meant they had access to just about everything in his personal and business digital life. Luckily, he had some contacts at Google that helped him regain control access to his accounts within a few hours.

Someone had successfully managed to change the password of my Gmail account, my Google Account and the most terrifying part was that the hacker also gained control over my Google Apps Account…

Amit’s put together a guide on how to recover your Gmail and Google Apps accounts should the same thing ever happen to you. Google makes you jump through a lot of hoops to regain control of an account once it falls out of your hands. Amongst the information you’ll need to have at the ready to confirm ownership of your account:

  • The month and year when your created your Gmail / Google Account.
  • Email address of who invited you to Gmail (if you were invited)
  • Top 5 most emailed contacts
  • Custom labels used in Gmail
  • The EXACT date of when you tarted using Google services such as Blogger and Adsense.

Amit’s 3-hour recovery is atypical. If you don’t have friends at Google the recovery process can drag on for several days and there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to recover your account if you don’t have all the relevant details. Amit suggests writing down the details on paper, which is a good idea except I’d probably lose such a piece of paper.

Instead of putting yourself through the misery of losing access to your Gmail accounts, it’s better to do your best to secure them ahead of any problems. Amit has several tips on how to do this, but  amongst the simplest is to use a unique password for your email account. I know that might sound simple, but I know too many people that use the same password for everything from Windows login to email to online banking. I already had a pretty secure password on my Gmail account, but I added a few special characters to it after reading about Amit’s experience.

Of course stories like these always stir up the debate about relying on the cloud. Have you ever lost access to your email or cloud accounts? Do you have any tips?

Comments

  1. Mike F says

    Is there anyway to recover this information after the fact? I didn’t record the dates mentioned in the article, nor the name of the person who gave me the invite.

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