Understanding Gmail’s Security Features: Where Does Your Data Stand?

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Gmail is one of the leading email services in the world with over 1.8 billion users. If you use Gmail for your business and personal correspondence, you may wonder how secure this popular webmail provider is, and how you can better protect your account from hackers. 

To help customers keep track of their Gmail security, Google has a Security Checkup feature where you can manage your security settings in one place. Read on to learn more about Gmail data protection.

Google Gmail app and finger above it ready to press it seen on the screen of smartphone

Does Gmail Encrypt Email?

Gmail, by default, uses Transport Layer Security (TLS) to encrypt email for privacy. TLS protects correspondence from unauthorized access during transit. This internet protocol is considered to be an industry standard that helps to keep third parties from eavesdropping on your emails while on insecure internet connections, like public Wi-Fi. 

For TLS to work best, both the sender and the recipient need to use TLS. If the receiver does not use TLS, Gmail still delivers the mail, but it is not encrypted. When it comes to suspicious emails, Gmail places them in a spam folder, but many may still leak through. 

To further ensure that your Gmail account is secure, Google has a special Security Checkup page you can use for added protection to your account. 

What is a Security Checkup?

When logging in to your Gmail account, navigate to https://myaccount.google.com/security to manage your Gmail settings. You’ll notice at the top of this page that you have many other email account options you can use to customize your Gmail, such as Data & Privacy and People & Sharing.

Under the Security tab, at the top of the page, Google suggests tips to secure your account. If you click on this, it will take you to personalized options for enhancing your security settings, or you can navigate to these individually on the Security page: 

  • Checking your passwords
  • Turning on safe browsing
  • Managing devices logged in to your account
  • 2-step verification
  • recovery email and phone number
  • Adding Sign-in Options
  • Third-party apps with access to your account
  • Dark web report
  • Saved passwords

You can use each of these to customize and monitor your account’s security. The Security Checkup page gives you a security checklist to use to make sure your sensitive information is protected from vulnerabilities. 

Checking Your Passwords

Although this isn’t the first section on the Security tab on your Google Account, password changes are one of the first tips you’ll receive from Google’s security. According to the Federal Trade Commission, in data breaches, passwords are one of the most leaked pieces of information from a web client like Google.

On Google’s Security Checkup Page, if you click on the “Review security tips” in blue at the top of your Google Account page, under the Security tab,  you can review your passwords. Next, click “Check your passwords.” Then, click “Check Passwords” again.

You will be prompted to put in the password to your Gmail account. Once you do that, you will get a detailed report of compromised passwords stored by Google Password Manager. This feature will put your passwords into categories such as weak, compromised, and reused.

Click the drop-down menu next to one of these categories to see in detail the accounts that are at risk. You can navigate from this place to change your passwords. Then, once you’ve made your passwords stronger, you can update the results to view real-time password security information. 

As password managers go, Google has a solid system, although some of the features for managing and generating new passwords could be easier and more streamlined. 

How You Sign In To Google

The next feature you can use to manage your Google account has several options for added security. Navigate back to the Security tab of your Google account page. Then, scroll down to “How you sign in to Google.” Here you can manage the access to your account.

You can see whether you have 2-step verification turned on. If you do not, you can click “2-step verification” and you will be taken to a page to turn it on. It also lets you know how long it has been turned on and gives you the option to turn it off if you want. 

Below that you can see exactly how you want your 2-step verification to work. If you are using a phone number as a backup verification, the number will be listed here. If you scroll down this page, you can add second steps for verification including backup codes, an authenticator app, and security keys.

Below that you will see that Google operates with zero trust, so all devices need to verify with two-factor authentication, but you can choose to allow certain devices access without this additional security step. Finally, there is an option for app passwords here, but Google states that these are usually unnecessary since most apps will just prompt you to sign in using Google. 

Now, you can go back to the “How you sign in to Google” section on the Google Account Security tab and see a basic overview of most of this information. There will be a recovery phone number and email option that you can change.

Below that, you will see some icons to add more sign-in options. You can set up multi-factor authentication from here, as well. 

Your Devices

Navigate back to the Security tab of your Google Account page. This will list all of the devices that have sessions using your Google account. Below that is a feature that allows you to “Find a lost device.” Then, below that is blue writing that you can click that says, “Manage all devices.”

If you click that, you get a more detailed explanation about which devices are signed into your account. Each device is listed with location data. It will also show the date of access and what browser or app was used, such as Safari or Google Chrome.

You can further click on each of these sessions to see when the last access was, the first time this device signed in, and the apps that have access to your account through this device. If you don’t recognize one of these devices or suspect suspicious activity, you can click “Don’t recognize something?” to prompt further action.

You can also sign out of these devices from this account setting or find the device. 

Your Connections to Third-Party Apps & Services

Below the “Your Devices” section on the Security tab of your Google Account page, you will see an option to “Skip password when possible.” This is set to Off by default. But, you can change this setting if you choose.

Then, if you scroll down, you’ll see a section titled “Your connection to third-party apps & services.” Here you can track which apps have access to your account. You can see what access they have and delete them, as needed.

There will be a few apps listed here that you can click the arrow on, or you can select the blue “see all connections” button for more details. A new page will open up with a list of all the apps and services linked to your Google account.

To manage them, simply click on the app name and it will open up a new page that explains what access this app has and gives you an option to delete your connection with this app.  This section allows you to manage each app’s permissions. 

Enhanced Safe Browsing

Another feature you can use to secure your Gmail account is Enhanced Safe Browsing. You can enable this to protect you against dangerous websites, downloads, and extensions while you are signed in to your account. 

This security feature works in the background by checking URLs, downloads, extensions, small samples of pages, and system information to protect your account and data. Then, if it detects a dangerous website, download, or extension, Enhanced Safe Browsing will block it or warn you about it. 

Google uses this protocol to protect users against phishing and malware. It keeps your personal info safe from suspicious websites.  To turn on this feature, go to your Google Account page. Click the Security tab. Then, scroll until you see “Enhanced Safe Browsing for your account.”

You will see whether the feature is on or off. If you select that, it will take you to an enable button. The button is gray when the feature is turned off. If it is turned off and you wish to turn it on, click the button. It will prompt you again with a pop-up that gives information about the kind of information that this protocol collects.

Then, you can select the blue “Turn on’ button at the bottom. You will get a notification that says safe browsing in on at the top of your page. The enable icon will be blue with a check mark. You can turn this on and off as you like. 

Laptop computer displaying the warning sign of the dark web

Dark Web Report 

On the Security tab of your Google Account page, towards the bottom, you will find a Dark Web Report. Here is an additional security measure that allows you to monitor whether your information has been found on the dark web. 

The icon will be gray and say “off” if this feature is not enabled. If you want to enable it, click the icon and it will open a new page. To allow Google to check the dark web for your email address, SSN, and other personal information, click the blue icon “Start monitoring.” 

Where Gmail Security Falls Short

Although Gmail has many great security features, there are some areas where your account could still be vulnerable. As previously stated, TLS only works if both the recipient and the sender have a server that uses this encryption protocol, otherwise, your emails may be less secure.

TLS only works to keep data secure during transit to and from servers. Whereas, more advanced encryption like end-to-end encryption (EE2E), encrypts that the message is encrypted before it is sent, during transit, and is only decrypted once the message is successfully delivered. 

Secondly, if you want to go through and manage your Gmail account passwords, this process can be tedious. It is easy to rack up upwards of 100 saved passwords and going through each of these one by one to change them can be tedious. If you want to quickly update your security, it’s not easy.

You have to spend a lot of time and energy selecting and customizing each feature to make sure it meets your needs. Additionally, Google has access to a lot of your data when you enable features such as the dark web report or enhanced safe browsing, which can further put your sensitive information at risk if Google were to have a large-scale security event. 

Google has a lot to offer when it comes to security, but if you want better security, there are other email hosting options.

How Sekur is Better

Our Swiss-hosted email is a 100% private platform that is free from big tech hosting and data mining. With SekurMail you can send end-to-end encrypted emails to recipients who have Sekur and those outside our network while still keeping your communications safe.

You can even have your recipients reply within our Sekur environment to keep your communications completely private. You can also send unlimited-sized attachments and monitor your email activity from our easy-to-use platform. We also provide an easy migration tool to help you switch over from your existing email provider.

In addition, to secure email communications, we provide private instant messaging and VPN to keep your data protected under different layers of military-grade encryption that are protected under Swiss privacy laws.

Give Sekur a try with our 7-day trial. 


Gmail has many security features to protect your account and data. You can manage these settings on their Security Checkup Page for easy access and the ability to customize your security settings. However, if you are looking for more specific and easier-to-use data-encrypted emails, you may need to shop around.

Although Gmail has a lot to offer, it could be better. If you use emails to communicate personal information daily, you may need to change your settings or search for a more securely encrypted email host.

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