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How to Effectively Protect Your Gmail Account

How to Effectively Protect Your Gmail Account

Email is a necessary evil in our society. Although you may text and chat with your friends and family, you have to communicate via email in the business world. With such sensitive information in your inbox, and your account being accessible via multiple devices, you should take the security of your email account very seriously.

If you are using Gmail by Google, here are some tips on how to effectively protect your account, and all of your valuable information.

1. Keep your account updated

Google has a variety of useful security options. Input your mobile phone number to receive text alerts whenever anyone signs in on a device you haven’t specifically listed or uses an incorrect password. You can also input a recovery email address for the same purpose.

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Gmail also allows you to log in with an alternate email address as well, in the event you forget your username or password, although I find this step to be more of a liability than a security feature.

2. Use a strong password

I know it’s a pain, and I get that you’re inundated with logins from work and home. I live in the same world you do, but the reality is that you need to use different passwords for every account. Your email account should be the strongest one, because it’s where all your other password recovery options are sent to. It should have a mixture of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.

It’s easier than it sounds. If you want your password to be “password,” simply make a few adjustments, and you can use pa55Word!, Pa55word!, or [email protected] That’s three separate passwords using the most common (and worst) password you can use.

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This is for your own protection. Otherwise, if a hacker gets your password from the Target or Sony data breaches, he can access your email, bank account, and everything else in your life. Everything is suddenly insecure because of some hacker breaking into a video game or retail store’s network…savvy?

3. Activate two-step authentication

Passwords are like locks on a door–they keeps you safe to the point that someone wants to use brute force to gain entry. In these cases, security systems like ADT are helpful for your home. For your email, this comes in the form of two-step authentication.

When you activate two-step authentication and download the Google Authenticator app on your smartphone or tablet, you’ll be asked to enter a code from the app every time you log in to your email account. This means that the only way someone can access your account is with access to your device (and knowledge of the authenticator app). You can also generate ten keys at a time to use when you don’t have access to your phone.

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4. Protect your devices

In case you haven’t noticed, the majority of these security options assume you have your phone. Unfortunately, your phone is likely to be lost or stolen. If someone takes your phone, they’ll have full access to anything in your email, as you likely don’t have it set to force you to log in each time you access it. The security of the device is vital at this point

Password protect your devices. In the event a device is lost or stolen, ensure you deactivate/track it remotely using Android Device Manager, Find My iPhone, or a third party app, such as Lookout. Also, log in to your email from a computer and migrate your security options away from that phone.

5. Secure your connection

Gmail automatically defaults to a secure HTTPS connection, but that’s not enough for me. You don’t have to go through the process of encrypting your email, but I’d recommend it. It’s the difference between sending a postcard, and a letter in a sealed envelope. Your account is secure either way, but with encryption your messages are secure while transmitting to other accounts.

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I access my email through Thunderbird, a free email app from Mozilla (the makers of Firefox). This allows me to pull the emails off Google’s servers and on to my local hard drive. In addition, I’m able to encrypt my email with a PGP extension prior to it even hitting Google’s servers. Some people I know even reroute emails through various forums to ensure they’re untraceable.

6. Use common sense

You can build the most secure email system in the world, but it’s still only as secure as the end-user. If you click random links in your email, you’ll compromise your account. If you write your passwords down, you’re compromising your account. You are in charge of keeping your account secure.

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Last Updated on February 15, 2019

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

Joe’s Goals

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    Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

    Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

    Daytum

      Daytum

      is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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      Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

      Excel or Numbers

        If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

        What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

        Evernote

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          I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

          Evernote is free with a premium version available.

          Access or Bento

            If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

            Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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            You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

            Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

            All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

            Conclusion

            I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

            What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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