Hardening your Android Device, Part-2

Part-2: Take Control of your Google Account
We’ve all heard the old axiom that building a good house requires a good foundation.  I prefer the Engineer’s version of that saying: “To build a stable house requires a square, true, and level foundation.  Well, ensuring your sole control over your account is the equivalent first step in our endeavor. Actually, you can have any kind of account as your primary account for your Android phone, but we’re presuming for the purposes of this article that you have a Google Account.  If you have a Microsoft or Yahoo account, you’ll need to do some of your own research to find these kind of equivalent settings. 

And while it might sound counter-intuitive to securing your device, we actually need to take control of your Google account before we can harden your device.  This is to ensure that you are the only person with access to your Google Account.  Even if you are certain that you never shared your account password with a good friend, or significant other, your account could still have been compromised.  This is the perfect opportunity to confirm that your account is still entirely yours.

Step-1: Log into your Google account through a PC, but only because these steps are easier to follow on a PC.  If you find it easier to work on a Tablet, more power to you. Then click on the 3-by-3 grid of dots or squares in the upper right of your login to the Google Account, then select My Account, as shown below:

Step-2: Next, click on Sign-in & Security on the left side.  Start the Security Checkup, which will ask you to establish a Recovery Phone number and e-mail address.

Side note: If your account has been compromised by a stalker (someone who just watches you remotely), then you’ll may find someone else’s Mobile number or E-mail address in these recovery fields.  Obviously, if you’ve had your account hacked or hijacked, then you’ll not even be able to login in to your account in the first place, since the hacker would have by definition changed the password. 

Step-3: Continue onwards to confirm which devices you are using to access the account (pay close attention here as someone could have enabled their device to access your account), disable access for less secure apps, or those you no longer use, and to Check your account Permissions for those Apps, Websites, and devices connected to your Google Account.  If you see devices that you do not recognize, this is a good indication of someone snooping on you.  You can also check your recent activity to make sure you recognize all sessions and ensure no one else is using your account without your knowledge or permission. If you have in the past granted permission for someone to use your account by giving them your password, then you may want to consider changing the password at this time.

Step-4: Visit Personal Info & Privacy and begin the Privacy Checkup, and then finally Account Preferences to ensure that your account reflects your individual preferences.

Step-5: Visit the section to research Two Factor Authentication and enable it if this kind of a setup works for you.  This extra step during the login process will help greatly reduce the possibility of your account ever getting hacked in the future.

Once you’re done here, then you’re done with Securing your Google Account for now.  I highly recommend revisiting these steps on a regular (Yearly?) basis to help ensure the overall security of your Google Account.

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