How Safe is Gmail

Danelle Vlok, Forensic Specialist

Hackers know that a vast number of people use Gmail. In September 2014, about 5 million Gmail accounts were hacked and the information leaked online. Since then, many such services have been breached. One reason Gmail is so popular is that it can be accessed from anywhere.

How to safeguard your account

•Gmail has a feature that sends an email to a different email address belonging to the user if the password has been changed or if someone has logged in from a different browser. Clients should be advised to let their intermediary know if their account has been hacked and to be aware that certain emails could be compromised.
•When creating a password use a combination of letters and numbers, and mix upper and lower case. Also, try to make your password as long as possible as that makes it harder to predict. Don’t use the same password for everything.

Cybercrime in South Africa

According to a recent report on, SA is increasingly in cybercriminals’ sights. SA is now the third-most attacked country, just behind Mexico, with Brazil and China in second place. This is because SA law is currently silent on cybercrime, although the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI) will change that, says Candice Sutherland, Business Development Consultant at Stalker Hutchison Admiral, an underwriting management agency.

Personal assistants’ laptops are the most frequently hacked computers in any company because of the amount of sensitive information stored on it, she says. In small or medium-sized enterprises PAs frequently perform a human resource function and may have staff members’ personal and bank account details stored on their laptop.

Digital best practice

Candice provides these best-practice guidelines to stay safe online:
· All devices on a company network (including external devices staff bring from home) must have adequate antivirus protection.
· Create effective passwords for all devices.
· Put antivirus software on your cellphones as well.
· Learn how to remote wipe and do this as soon as possible if your phone is stolen or lost.
· Always change a default password.
· Be wary of geotags. Deactivate location services when taking photos as these can be traced back, for example to your home.
· Don’t click on links in unsolicited emails and don’t provide personal information.
· Always be aware of which Wi-Fi account you’re accessing. Providers of free Wi-Fi, like some fast-food outlets, won’t take responsibility for fraud committed while the victim was using their Wi-Fi.