Phishing attack hits Gmail; How to keep your information safe

CLEVELAND - If you use Gmail, you'll want to be on high alert as Google said a phishing attack from China is targeting Gmail accounts. Google even said accounts of U.S. government officials were targeted.

Google said the phishing attack's goal was to monitor emails and change forwarding settings. The company said the account hijackings were not the result of a problem with Gmail.

Phishing attacks can be executed with malware or when a user simply responds to a fraudulent email and unknowingly gives away sensitive information. Banks and email providers will never send you an email asking you to verify your credentials. If you hover over these fake hyperlinks you'll often see that the link that appears to be www.jennstrathman.com is really www.phishing.com and so on.

Google reminded consumers to improve security of their accounts. This is good advice for everyone who uses email. They suggested a two-step verification process where a code is sent to your phone or other device. You need to enter your password and that code before you sign in. Google will remember that code for that computer for up to 30 days, which makes it a little less of a pain to use two-step verification.

Google offers a video on how you do it.

Some verification processes can be annoying. I recently tried Facebook's, and found it to be a huge hassle. I say this, and I'm a big advocate of privacy and doing what you can to reduce your digital footprint. If you use the same computer all the time, it may not be a big deal. At least try it and see if it works for you as all the verification processes vary slightly.

Whether it's email or your bank account, always use a strong password. Characters, Capital Letters, and numbers are important to making it more difficult to figure out a password.

Remembering all these passwords is difficult, as every company has different requirements. Instead of remembering them all, you may want to try a password management program. Just choose carefully as you are giving your information to a third-party application. Security consultants I've talked with like KeePass .

Avoid using a public computer. You don't know if there's malware loaded onto the computer to steal your keystrokes.

Think it can't happen to you? Think again. A woman accessed hers on a cruise ship, and suddenly someone hijacked her email account.

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Content courtesy: jennstrathman.com . Jenn works as a consumer investigator for WEWS-TV in Cleveland and keeps a blog to update people on the latest money-saving tips.

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