Google recently revamped their account settings page making it easier to review your privacy and security settings. You may see a notification appear on the Google homepage while logged in, or you can access their tool at https://myaccount.google.com/ .
It’s easy to walk through the new “Security Checkup” and “Privacy Checkup” wizards, and a great idea to do so especially if you use more than one of Google’s services (like GMail and Youtube, for example.) Just go to the new My Account page and look for the Checkup buttons.
While Google does a generally good job explaining what each setting is, here are some general thoughts on the security options:
- Recovery information: Make sure you have at least one recovery option available in case your account becomes inaccessible. Even consider using a trusted friend’s email or your home phone if you can’t think of what to use.
- Connected devices are computers or mobile devices that have recently accessed your google account. If these look like devices you own or use and are located in your general geographic area. (Sometimes the geolocation is slightly off, so within 50 miles or so should be fine.)
- Account permissions are websites or apps that are authorized to connect to your account without entering your password. This could be mobile email clients, games, or even websites that you use Google to log into. Take some time here to remove any apps you no longer use or don’t recognize.
- App Passwords are only applicable when you have 2-factor authentication enabled (for more on 2-factor authentication see below). They let a specific program that doesn’t support 2 factor authorization codes to still connect with your account. (an email client, for example.) You would have had to create these manually, and can generally delete any older entries that haven’t been used in the last month or so.
- If you use a smartphone, it’s a great idea to use Authy (my preference–iOS, Android) or Google’s authenticator app (iOS, Android). These apps generate a one time secure code that basically makes sure you have your smartphone with you when you sign into Google. Once you sign in on a computer (your home desktop, for example), Google stores a cookie on that computer so you don’t have to re-enter a code on every sign in. For more on 2-factor authentication and google, read this help article. (2-factor also works on many other websites including Facebook–watch for an upcoming article.)
For information on Google’s Privacy options, check out the second post in this two-part series, Keeping an Eye on Google – Privacy