Many of us use Web-based email services like Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo for personal communications. Many of my most personal and secret conversations are stored in my Web email account. It’s horrifying to think that my email life is a password away from anyone anywhere to access. Most importantly, use passwords that are hard to guess but easy to remember! That said, recently we have seem some pretty clever practices by Web mail companies to make those communications more private and more secure.
Now Hotmail allows users of their Web mail to provide a mobile phone number so that Hotmail can text a password reset code in case you forgot. This is probably more secure than having secret security questions that can be guessed by others. Hotmail also allows users to register “trusted” computers that are recognized by the email service. See this great CNet blog on the subject.
Recently Google’s Gmail has implement a similar mobile phone text reset mechanism. And it also provides a handy tool to find out whether anyone other than you has accessed your Gmail account.The “Last account activity” shows you what what type of device accessed your Gmail (e.g. Browser, Mobile), the IP addresses of the device and when it was accessed. For instance, if the “Last account activity” report says your Gmail was accessed by a mobile device yesterday and you don’t access Gmail on mobile, you may have a problem. Gmail also alerts you to suspicious behavior on your account. Here is a more thorough blog post on the subject.
All I can say is, Way to go Hotmail and Gmail.