James Fallows from The Atlantic has written up a nice summary of what you can do to protect your Gmail account from getting hacked, as well as how to protect your data. The biggest obstacle people face to implementing these protections? A false sense of security:
I’ve made this point before, but I stress it again for this simple reason: I believe that most “normal” users do not imagine that this can be so. They don’t think it’s really possible that everything they’ve archived for years and years might be vaporized. But indeed it is possible, and online life should be conducted with appropriate “tragic imagination” of that fact.
As a result of reading this article, I just signed up for Google’s two-step authentication, which dramatically reduces your likelihood of getting hacked. Basically, you download an authenticator app to your phone, then use it to login to your Gmail account along with your password. It’s a super-cool feature that, bizarrely, banks don’t even have yet.
My biggest fear is forgetting about the whole thing if/when I get a new/replacement iPhone, and the authenticator forgets all my previous settings. Then I’d be right screwed. But maybe just the act of blogging about this fear will prevent that from happening. Only time will tell…