Used to be identity theft only revolved around cards and social security numbers, but these days our virtual identities are just as important and even more vulnerable. With the enermous power that it wields over our Internet lives, Google is in the prime position to help mitigate the effects or sometimes even prevent incidents from happening in the first place. That is why it is releasing two new security tools that will let users check up on their online activity and, if necessary, batten down the hatches.
From your Google account dashboard, a new Devices & Activity section will take you an almost all encompassing list of what you’ve been doing on the Internet, as long as it is related to any Google product. So whether it be an Android device, using Google Chrome, or even browsing in Firefox or Safari while logged into your Google account, your activity will be logged and presented. Don’t worry as it won’t exactly show you what you’ve done or where you’ve been (though you should probably be already aware that Google knows those as well anyway), but only the time and locations those devices were accessed.
And in case you do notice that something’s amiss, the new security wizard will take you through the steps of setting your account up for recovery or strengthening its security. Usually in a time of crises, a plethora of options and questions will only serve to confuse the victim all the more, so an easy to understand step by step guide will definitely help. At first, you will be asked to setup your account for recovery scenarios, asking for an alternative email address, double checking your recent activity, and disabling access to apps that Google deems insecure. When things do go wrong, you will be asked to change your password. Google says it only takes about 3 minute to accomplish these tasks, which shouldn’t be a high price to pay considering the security benefits.
While tools like these are quite good to have, even if limited only to Google’s products, it does highlight one worrying thing about Google. The tools drive home the fact that Google knows a lot about our online activities, no matter what device we use, whether it be an Android phone, an iPhone, or even a desktop. Google says that the Devices & Activities panel only shows activities for the past 28 days, but surely it keeps more than that. And it most likely possesses more information than it displays, and it’s good that it doesn’t display them all.