Recently, I gave a talk on privacy at a tech workshop. Among the points I covered, one was regarding the ever-popular collection of Google services.. that all starts with one central account, your Google account.
I showed the class how changing information within a Google account will cause services across Google to reflect that information. If you were one of the lucky observant ones, you saw our Youtube channel and various Google services change from TNW Creations to my name. It was a security Easter egg. Did you notice?
Here's how you can make sure your privacy settings are appropriate for your account.
Go to your Google account to manage it.
1. Start with, "Personal Info"
Check your Basic Info. Do you have information you are comfortable using here? Under each field, there will be a short message from Google explaining the privacy and visibility for each one, such as name and birthdate.
It's always a good idea to have an additional email address listed in this section of your account as well. In case you lose or can't access your primary email address.
It was in this area that I changed our Google business account from our company name to my own name and showed the students how our youtube channel and other services suddenly went from, "TNW Creations" to, "Erin LaVaux Quarles." What a small but powerful change.
Using your name on your Google account will cause all Google Services to show your name instead of your business. This includes Youtube, Docs & Calendar.
If you have a business Google account, you want your Google account to match your business name.
2. Move on to, "Data & Privacy"
The easiest way to check your privacy is to select, "Take Privacy Checkup." It's like going to the doctor but the out of pocket can be devastating if you don't pay attention to what data about yourself that you're giving away.
Click through each section under this category and make sure it matches what you expect. Often people will be startled by the surprising data that is exposed.
3. Now check, "Security"
Here you will see your 2FA, devices that are signed in, recovery email addresses and any third parties you've granted access to your Google account.
Every area of this category is crucial to your safety. Make sure you have a strong password, 2FA enabled and recovery email addresses. Look for any sign-ins or devices that don't belong to you and remove and secure your account.
Limit the third party access to your Google account. As any additional third party increases your risks to being data breached, hacked, hijacked.
4. Next look at, "People & Sharing"
In this section, you will see the new Family feature on Google (you should not use this feature if you are using your Google account for business).
Your location, sharing, contacts, blocks and business features. Under People & Sharing, you can click, "Choose what others see" and view information Google has about you that may or may not be visible to others. If you started with, "Personal Info," then you already covered this.
5. Lastly check, "Payments & Subscriptions"
This is definitely not to be an overlooked area. Double check your saved payment information (if any), subscriptions, account storage, purchases, etc.
As an added priceless pound of protection, it's best to be mindful of this entire area of your Google account at all times.
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I've been programming, designing, writing and publishing professionally online since 1995. I've worn many hats throughout my life, but the common core of my career has always been media. Besides theportfolio you see on TNW Creations, my internet presence has been substantial for over 2 decades. In 1995, while still in college, I founded TNW Creations and became part of the grassroots development for teaching the Lakhota language online. By 2004, my bilingual work was listed on many sites, including National Geographic , Encarta and Touchstone Pictures Hidalgo. When I'm not developing and writing, you'll find me managing MagicStoryLand.Com, creating kid-friendly game & video content, investigating and initating hostile website takedowns, posting salty articles about cyber threats, moderating UnifyLife.Org and enjoying my community, church & family.