My daughter says her friend "hacked" into her Gmail account and read all of her messages. How does this happen?
While it’s technically possible that your daughter’s Gmail account was “hacked” by someone she knows, it’s highly unlikely. Hacking would involve a skilled computer expert using software tools to break into a password-protected account. The more likely case is that your daughter’s password was guessed by her so-called friend.
According to security researchers, our passwords are usually too obvious. Phrases such as “123456,” “password,” “iloveyou,” “letmein” or a pet’s name -- or slight variations of these -- are common. Even if your daughter’s friend didn’t guess the password, your daughter might have accidentally told her what it was. Also consider the fact that many of us use the same password on multiple accounts, so it's possible your daughter accidentally revealed a password elsewhere that was the same as her email password.
Another likely scenario is your daughter logged into her Gmail account while on her friend’s computer and either didn’t log out properly or mistakenly clicked the Gmail option to “stay signed in” for future visits.
If your daughter wants proof a friend logged in as her, Gmail also has a little-known feature she can use. Have her sign into her Gmail account and select “last account activity” at the bottom of her inbox to view information about usage, such as where her account was previously accessed (using the computer’s unique IP address, which tells its geographical location) as well as the date and time of the logins.
No matter how your daughter’s email was breached, it’s important to immediately change her Gmail password and security question. This time, be sure she chooses a strong password and never reveals the information to anyone.
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