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Less-Is-More Blog by Pierre Khawand

Disruptions: Life’s Too Short for So Much E-Mail by Nick Bilton (New York Times, 7/8/12); summary + commentary by Melissa Sweat, Online Community Manager

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Mon, Aug 20, 2012 @ 09:17 PM

Haven't heard about our summary+commentary (s+c*d) format? Learn more!

Summary

summary commentary emaildistration 8.20.12

Corporate employees send and receive about 105 emails daily. Writer Nick Bilton thinks that’s a big problem as he tries to manage his more than 6,000 monthly emails, using everything from filters to away messages to no avail (see "Disruptions," NYT). He cites a 2012 UC Irvine report stating that those who didn’t check email regularly at work were less stressed and more productive than those who checked more often. Bilton considers other forms of messaging instead, like Google Chat or Twitter, or even not responding at all.

Commentary

We relate with Bilton about email frustration, but “avoidant inbox disorder” is not the solution. Our methodology at People-OnTheGo is that email is a task you schedule into your day. This enables you to focus your work effort, while saving time for collaboration (email, social media, etc.). We have a unique inbox strategy that helps you prioritize emails, daily and weekly; no more switching tasks to attend to every alert. We also agree with the UC Irvine study:  those who check email less regularly—though we would add “and more strategically”—are less stressed and more productive.

Discussion

Are you frustrated and overwhelmed by email? Do you try to avoid it? Are newer forms of communication like chat and social media messaging more preferable to you? What are some email solutions that you use in the workplace?

Additional Resources

Topics: summary-plus-commentary, Gmail, Technology, time management tips, getting organized, interruptions, productivity, information overload, time on social media, managing stress, email management

Google Security: learn to hack-proof your Google Account

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Wed, Oct 12, 2011 @ 04:00 AM

Guest blog article by Steve Loosley, Tech Blogger

Do you store sensitive data in Gmail and Google Docs? If so, is your data safe? Is your account hack-proof? 

In our last post you learned the key steps to make your Gmail secure. Today, I want to show you how to check your critical Google Account settings and how to set-up 2-Step Verification.

First, let’s update your Google Account settings. As shown in the following screenshot, click your name in the upper right corner of Gmail or Google Docs, and select Account Settings in the drop-down menu.

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Let’s work though each of the items on the Account Overview page, as shown in the next screenshot. 

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Password

It’s a good idea to periodically change your password. Google recommends ...

  • Pick a unique password that you haven't previously used on other sites or on Gmail. Just changing one character or number isn’t enough.
  • Don't use a dictionary word or a common word that's easily guessable.
  • Use a combination of numbers, characters, and case-sensitive letters to make your password impossible to guess.

Make sure that your password recovery options are up-to-date, so you can access your account if you forget your password, something that we all do. You can set-up your own secret question, backup email address, and SMS number. Again, make your answers guess-proof.

Authorizing applications & sites

Click edit and make sure that the authorized websites are ones that you have approved. If your Google Account has been compromised, it's possible that the bad guys have authorized their own websites. This may allow them to access your Google Account after you have changed your password.

Use 2-step verification

Two-step verification will make your Google Account 99.9% hack-proof by adding an extra layer of security.

With 2-step verification, signing in to your Google Account requires two steps:

  1. Password. First, you enter your Google Account password as normal. 
  2. Code. Next, you’ll be prompted for a time-sensitive, random 6 digit code.

Watch the following short, 3:28 Google video to learn about 2-step verification, and then we’ll set-up your account.

 

 

Setting up 2-step verification

  • On the Account overview page, click edit next to Using 2-step verification (see screenshots above).
  • A help screen will open. Click Start setup.
  • Select how you want to receive your verification codes: SMS, voice call, or on your smart phone.
  • Next, add a backup number to ensure that you can receive a verification code to sign-in even if your primary phone isn't available or working.
  • Finally, record or print your backup codes and store them in your purse or wallet.

Application-specific Passwords

After you set-up 2-step verification, some applications that access your Google Account (such as Gmail on your phone or Outlook) cannot ask for verification codes. Instead of verification codes, you'll enter application-specific passwords.

For a complete list of applications that require new, unique passwords see this this Google help article. This article also explains how to generate and enter these passwords.

To set-up application-specific passwords,

  • Click on edit next to Authorizing applications & sites on the Account Overview page (see screenshot above).  
  • Locate the Application-specific password section at the bottom of the screen. 
  • Enter a Name and click Generate password
  • Copy the password and either paste or enter it in the application.

There is no need to remember these passwords. You only need to authorize an application once.

Whew, great job! Your Google Account will be 99.9% hack-proof by using a strong password, reviewing authorized sites, and implementing 2-step verification. 

In the comments below, let me know what steps that you've taken to protect your Google Account. 

Additional Resources

Gmail Security Checklist - Google Help Document

Google Two-Step Verification - Google Help Document

Managing and Organizing Your E-mail Inbox--Using Google Apps - People-OnTheGo webinar series

Inbox Freedom - People-OnTheGo webinar series

Topics: Gmail, Technology, email management

Google Security: learn how to make your Gmail secure

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Mon, Oct 10, 2011 @ 04:00 AM

Guest blog article by Steve Loosley, Tech Blogger

Is your Gmail secure? Can you tell if someone hacks your account?

In this short series of posts, I want to help you make sure that your Google Account is secure. I want to show you how to know if someone hacks your account. 

In this post, we’ll focus on Gmail and in the next, your Google Account settings. First, I want to show you how you can tell if someone else is checking your email. 

Gmail Account Activity 

Gmail records how, where, and when your mail is checked. To check your Last account activity, look for the following at the bottom of your Gmail screen and click on Details 

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A new window will open, like the screenshot below, displaying the Access Type, Location (IP address), and Date/Time. Scan the rows. Does anything look suspicious — unauthorized concurrent sessions, unexplainable locations or times, or unknown devices?

For example, if you normally access your email from California, but the Location field shows that your account was accessed from another state or country, this is a red flag that someone else has access to your account.

Make sure that the Alert preference is set to Show an alert for unusual activity.

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Gmail Settings

Next, let’s verify your Gmail settings. Click on the cog in the upper right corner of your Gmail screen and select Mail settings from the drop-down menu, like this screenshot.

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In the General tab, make sure that the Browser connection is set to Always use https. This setting protects your information from being stolen when you're signing in to Gmail on a public wireless network, like at a coffee shop or hotel. Here's a screenshot

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Next, let’s examine the key settings to make sure that no one has hacked your account and hijacked your mail. Again, on the Mail settings page, click on

  • General: check your Signature, and Vacation responder
  • Accounts and Import: verify your settings under Send mail as, which includes checking your reply-to address, Check mail using POP3, and Grant access to your account.
  • Filters: Check that no filters are sending your mail to Trash, Spam, or forwarding to an unknown account. 
  • Forwarding and POP/IMAP: Make sure that your mail isn't sent to an unknown account or mail client, like happened in this summer’s Chinese Gmail scandal.

Finally, be aware of phishing scams (read about phishing in Wikipedia) that redirect you to websites that look like Gmail log-in pages, but are really rogue sites to trick you in to entering your Gmail address and password. For example, this graphic shows what the fake site looked like that tricked many users this summer.

Here are a few things to remember to avoid phishing scams.

  1. The URL for Gmail should be https://mail.google.com/... Check the top of your web browser, and if it’s anything else, use extreme caution. 
  2. Avoid clicking on a URL that is disguised in an email. Hackers disguise dubious websites by not showing the URL. So, don’t click on this, but do click on this - http://www.example.com
  3. Never send sensitive information by email. To be safe, assume that your email may be snooped.

To sum-up, if you keep close watch on your Account Activity and occasionally check your key settings, you’ll be well on your way to securing your Gmail.

In the comments below, let me know what works for you. How do you keep your Gmail secure?

Additional Resources

Gmail Security Checklist - Google Help Document

Managing and Organizing Your E-mail Inbox--Using Google Apps - People-OnTheGo webinar

Inbox Freedom - People-OnTheGo webinar 

Topics: Gmail, Technology, email management