Is Gmail Safe and Secure for Email?

Last updated: April 23, 2017 - 5:08pm EDT

Now that you’ve learned a little about what Gmail is and how it works, the first question that you might ask is: “Is it a safe and secure email client to use?” This is an even more important question in light of the fact that a Gmail account interconnects with many of Google’s cutting-edge websites and applications. In this article, we’ll explain how Gmail could pose a threat to your safety and security, and give you tips on how to use Gmail safely.

How safe is Gmail?

Gmail is safe to use, as it requires password-protected access. So long as you make a strong password and don't tell it to anyone else, Google will block unauthorized sign-in attempts and protect your account. There are, however, safety risks associated with using a Gmail account, including Internet fraud and scams. Because Google is one of the most-used services for email, they take safety very seriously. Google employs industry leaders in safety, and have in place security measures that will protect your account. But how secure is it, and what can you do to secure your account?  We'll answer those questions below.

Is Gmail secure?

Gmail is secure to use as an email service, as it employs some of the most advanced security measures in the industry. It automatically filters out many Internet spam emails for you, and deletes them after a period of time.  It also has features that make it difficult for a hacker to break into your account.

Gmail security email

With all that said, it is still very important to take measures to keep your Gmail account secure. For example, you can register a mobile phone number or secondary email address with your account to help you reset your Gmail password if you forget it.  Or, you could require the answering of security questions that you come up with in order to log into your Gmail account.  You could even turn on two-step verification for your Gmail account, which forces someone trying to log into your account to enter a code sent to your mobile device or another email account that you control. All of these protect your account from unwanted access, and will help you to use Gmail without fear.

We have a few other tips for you below. Take our advice, and it’s unlikely you’ll ever have a problem using Gmail.

6 safety tips: how to stay safe with your Gmail and Google account

1. Never click on suspicious emails, especially those in the "Spam" folder.

Gmail has such advanced security that it can detect an Internet scam or fraud within an email before you even see it. Many users receive emails every day containing scams, links that download viruses and malicious software to your computer or device when clicked on, or both.

Gmail spam warning

Never click on an email like this, as it could be harmful to you. Gmail will sort these emails into your “Spam” folder automatically (for your review if you wish), and then automatically delete them after 30 days. If you receive an email you believe to be spam, make sure to mark it as spam so Google can automatically detect similar emails for you in the future.

You can also decrease your likelihood of receiving spam emails by not giving your email address out to everyone who asks for it. Many businesses that ask for your email use it to send spam, and some people even sell lists of email addresses to those participating in Internet fraud scams.

If you want to learn more about how to identify spam emails, check out our article on email safety and spam.

2. Set your Gmail account recovery options.

When you first create your account, you should change your account recovery options. This way, you can decide exactly how you can gain access to your account should you be locked out of it. Adding security questions or additional email addresses is a great way to make sure you are never permanently locked out of your  account.

3. Complete the Gmail “Security Checkup.”

Gmail has its own “Security Checkup”, which you can complete at any time after signing up for your account. This will make sure your vital information on your account is current, and you know exactly which devices are connected to your account.

To complete the “Security Checkup,” visit myaccount.google.com and click Get Started under the “Security Checkup” heading on the left side of the page. From there, just edit any information to keep it up-to-date. You should also consider clicking Get Started under the “Privacy Checkup” heading on the same page to update your privacy settings.

4. Turn on two-step verification.

Two-step verification is a process by which a user trying to access your account must complete two steps of identity verification. Usually this includes entering an additional email address associated with your account, or answering a few security questions that you've set up.  If you pass this verification, Google will then send a unique instant verification code to your mobile phone.  This code must be entered, along with your other Gmail account credentials, to gain access to your account.

Basically, this means that anyone trying to get into your account must also possess your mobile device to be successful. It's just an added measure of security to prevent unwanted account access.

5. Sign out of your account when you are finished.

It is always good practice to sign out of all of your applications when you are no longer using them, and you should do this when you’re finished using Gmail, too. This will require you to sign in again the next time you want to use Gmail, but it protects your account from unauthorized access if your computer or device gets lost or stolen.  If you're signed out of your account, anyone who wants to use it will have to get past the security measures that you have set up, like your password or two-step verification.

6. Create a secure password for your account, and protect it.

Creating a secure password is key to protecting any of your accounts, not just your account. A few things to keep in mind include:

  • Create a long and complex password, aiming for 10-12 characters
  • Use upper-case letters, lower-case letters, numbers, and special characters
  • Include a random factor, like substituting some letters with numbers (0 for an o, 4 for an a)
  • Don’t use common patterns (123456)
  • Never share your password with anyone, or write it down anywhere near your computer
  • Don’t use personal information that is easy for people to guess or find out, such as birthdates, anniversaries, children’s names, or license plate numbers
  • Don't use the same password for all of your other accounts. (Again, this is especially important for your account, as it also gives you access to so many great Google applications!)

 

That’s how to keep yourself safe and secure while using Gmail. Our next article will cover whether or not you have to pay to use Gmail, but if you think you're confident enough to start using it now, check out our step-by-step tutorial on how to create a Gmail account. We’ve also got you covered with other great topics in our Gmail course, such as how to use Gmail, how to import your contacts, and how to compose and send emails.

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