What the latest Google data breach means for you

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What the Google data breach means for you
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Another Google data breach, this time of the company’s Google Plus social network, has reignited concerns about user privacy and security safeguards supposedly in place.

More than 500,000 Google Plus users had their data exposed this past spring through a third-party application, according to multiple news sources. Instead of disclosing the data breach, Google opted to hide it, according to the Wall Street Journal, who was the first to break the news.

Google data breach: 500,000 users exposed + how to protect your info

The revelations from the hack, which leaked users’ email addresses, usernames, ages and more, are still being sorted, but indications are pretty clear that Google didn’t handle it like they should have. Or as Wired Magazine so artfully put it: “The company found and investigated the flaw internally, rather than from an outside researcher, and opted not to disclose it until the Wall Street Journal report effectively forced them to.”

This week’s disclosure of the hack was met with Alphabet’s decision to abruptly shut down Google Plus. Critics said the company may have feared the regulatory scrutiny thrust upon Facebook in the wake of its data breach earlier this year.

Do you have Google Plus?

Many of you may be wondering if you even have a Google Plus account. The easiest way to find out is to go inside your Gmail.com account and click on the square grid icon in the top right-hand corner. This is where your Google apps are. You should see a red Google Plus icon, if you’ve configured it.

What the latest Google data breach means for you

As of this writing, Google Plus is still up and running for many users, but the company has not said how long that will be the case. The #1 thing users can do is review their privacy settings to make sure they have the basic safeguards in place. Here’s how to do that:

See the apps Google is sharing your data with

Log into your Google account. Go to the upper right-hand corner, where it has your profile pic or the first letter of your Google sign-in. Click on it and there’s a link that says “Privacy.”

That’s where you can see what Google is collecting on you and it gives you the option to change the privacy setting.

What the Google data breach means for you
Photo credit: Google account screenshot

Click on “Apps with account access” under Sign-in & security to see what third-party apps have your data. You can click on “Manage Apps” to manage or remove access to apps you no longer interact with or trust.

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Craig Johnson is a conscious money-saver who still reads paperback books and listens to vinyl. He likes to write about how technology is making things easier and more affordable — but also sometimes more dangerous — for the modern consumer. You can reach Craig at [email protected]
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