Outsourcing

Protect your Gmail account by accessing the activity report

Web-based email is convenient, but what happens if you forgot to log out of a public computer? GMail users have an easy solution.

Web-based e-mail is convenient, but what happens if you forgot to log out of a public computer? Gmail users have an easy solution.

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Last week, I got a panicked call from a friend. She had forgotten to log out of her Web e-mail account before leaving the study carrel she was using. My friend is in graduate school, and the library where she goes to work gets a lot of traffic. She was appropriately concerned about the security of her account and asked me if there was anything she could do to close that session remotely. Luckily, since she's a Gmail user, I could offer her a solution.

Once a user logs in, he or she can find data about the "Last account activity" at the bottom of every Gmail page below the storage usage stats. Displayed there will be the last network address that accessed the Gmail account or an indication of how long the current session has lasted. There is also a link labeled "Details." That link is where we're headed.

By clicking on the Details link, a Gmail user can see a table of recent activity in her account. This table will indicate when and from where the account has been accessed, and it will display if there are multiple sessions active simultaneously. To close every other session except their current Web-based one, a user can click the Sign Out All Other Sessions button. This was what I directed my friend to do.

The recent activity report can serve as a useful security-auditing tool in other ways. Examining the data for suspicious network addresses and account activity can alert a user that the security of her Gmail account has been breached. More information on how to use the session activity report can be found on Google's help pages.

7 comments
mhenriday
mhenriday

I've made it a practice of logging out when I access my Gmail account from a computer other than those I have at home - something I frequently need to do when helping others with their computer problems - so I've never used this feature. but it's very good to know - and to recommend to other Gmail-users !... Henri

TBBrick
TBBrick

...that make the difference. Many thanks

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

I have been using Gmail forever and didn't know about that feature.

williamjones
williamjones

In a recent post, I write about one of my favorite Gmail features: the activity report and its "Sign out all other sessions" button. It's refinements like this that lead me to prefer Gmail over other web email providers. I like the level of control they offer their users. Do you use web-based email? Why do you stick with your provider? Do they offer a security feature like Google's for closing abandoned sessions?

abhishekkhandelwal2000
abhishekkhandelwal2000

Thank You, Its really very helpful Information, I have seen lots of session problems in Yahoo Web!! Here is an example: My Friends do visit me very often and they just forget to signout, they just close the browser window, Once i tried mail.yahoo.com on browser and entered my logon credentials (userId/passsword), i was surprised to see the mail box that flashed out, It was my friend's mail box with my logon credentials. I was totally clueless! I called up my friend and advised him to 'Signout' the session always!