Google's email service Gmail offers an overview of the most recent Gmail activities on its website. This lists access times, account connection types, IP addresses and countries of recent log ins.
Access to this feature is provided at the bottom of every Gmail page by clicking on the Details link there.
But that option is a passive one as it requires that users know about it, and access it regularly to check previous sign ins to Gmail to make sure they are all legitimate.
Users who do not check the account activity regularly may miss notifications about unauthorized access to the Gmail account.
Google implemented a new automatic option to improve that recently. It warns Gmail users whenever suspicious account activity is detected by the company.
The message "Warning: We believe your account was recently accessed from: Country" is displayed whenever Google believes that the user account has been accessed by an unauthorized person. Gmail users may click on "show details and preferences" to find out more about the flagged sign in, or click on ignore to ignore the message.
The warning message may be triggered if access from multiple countries is recognized in a short period of time. A user who signs in from the United States first, and then two hours later from China may receive a notification.
While this can be legitimate, for instance by using a VPN, it can as well be unauthorized. The warning message on Gmail gives users of the service an option to react as quickly as possible and either verify the sign in as legitimate, or inform Google that it was not.
A click on the "show details and preferences" displays pretty much the same information that are displayed when you click on the details link on Gmail directly.
It displays the access type, location, and date/time of the flagged connection, and marks it in red for easy recognition.
The concurrent session information table lists all access types, locations and IP addresses that are currently active on Gmail. It includes options to sign out all other sessions immediately. This can be very useful, for instance if you forgot to sign out on a public computer, a friend's computer that you used for a moment to check emails, or if your own computer got stolen.
The recent activity table lists the date and time, access type, location and IP address of the last log ins to the account. An option to change the password immediately is provided if at least one suspicious activity is listed on the page.
The new warning is an important step in informing Gmail users of suspicious account behavior. Google will implement the feature into Google Apps as well. (via Gmail Blog)
There you can also enable alerts for unusual activity so that you are informed about them even if you are not connected to the Gmail website.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.