Sad news about the unauthorized viewing of email messages by third-party application developers has alarmed Gmail users. It’s understood the Internet giant did not resort to ignoring the problem, the corporation provided detailed comments on possible exposure of the letters dispatched by its users to unauthorized reading and updated protection mechanisms.
There is something more essential about all this hype as it provides insight into the options facilitating our understanding of the level of protection from unwelcome intervention available to our mailbox.
It has been the article by the Wall Street Journal which laid down that third-party companies have been reading Gmail messages sent by users. For instance, Return Path staff read approximately 8,000 emails sent by the users; that facilitated the corresponding improvements to the company software.
See: Google collects Android location data even if location service is off
It also emerged that this was the practice adopted by the developers of a range of popular online tools intended to work with Gmail. Predictably enough, the Cambridge Analytica case became a cause for alarm to the users as an unauthorized view of emails is a situation to be excluded for good.
One day later Google shed some light onto the issue observing that its staff were thoroughly examining third-party applications in order to ensure that the data they inquire included only the necessary data and that they positioned themselves as a trustworthy system. However, it is good to check your mailbox for unauthorized access as long as there are obvious reasons not to take bare words of a company.
Let’s detail what we can do.
How Do I Protect My Gmail?
The core problem relates to the third-party developers often reading a Gmail message content, once relevant authorization is available to them. Meanwhile, techniques are still available to facilitate your control over the access of third-party applications to Gmail Inbox feed. We are ready to share three such techniques.
Use Security Checkup
To get access to this tool, you will need to sign in to your Google Account (Myaccount.google.com) and manage specific settings. In order to proceed, click the squares at the right upper corner, and choose Account in the drop-down list. Continue with finding Security Checkup tab. This option enables viewing the number of devices used for signing in your Account. It also informs whether any security issues have occurred over recent 28 days.
See: Google to stop scanning user emails for Gmail ads
Besides, Security Checkup contributes best to revealing the sign-in technique and the method of restoring control over the account. There is one feature to be noted above the others as it shows the number of applications having access to the data. Where the application is no longer in use, Google may remove it in order to avoid anticipated privacy issues.
Gmail users need to exercise precaution towards the permissions issued for the application designed by a third party (other than Google). Where an application is about to get access to your Google account, it shall specify all the access details: for example, reading, sending, deleting and managing emails. This would facilitate a decision to be taken by a user whether the application is to access the user’s Gmail.
In order to make use of this feature, please repeat the steps for proceeding with Your Account options (click the squares at the right upper corner, and choose Account in the drop-down list). Proceed with Sign-in & Security to Apps with Account Access.
The latter enables tracking the apps or services with access to your Google Account. It may remove anything that you do not trust for sure. The option also shows the passwords you have saved, including that the Google Smart Lock can retain. Should you spot any unreliable or outdated features, you can remove them.
In general, it is good to note that Google has applied a good deal of effort to ensure the app developers do not mislead their users. That is to say, each app undergoes a comprehensive revision routine prior to reaching its users. To top it off, last year the Internet giant notified of terminating the practice of scanning the user letters to enhance targeting of the ads to be shown.
How Do Applications Provide Access to Private Emails?
Hundreds of third-party developers set up their online services adding extra functionality to Gmail. A dedicated API developed by Google itself is available for this purpose. Such services also enable extending email features such as comparing prices of different web-shops or promptly canceling your subscriptions to marketing emails. An attempt to use any of such apps entails the user to approve the list of permissions it requires. Where the user provides such permission, the app, hence its developers, are able to read both incoming and outgoing emails.
It is noteworthy that tracking the contents of emails is an advantage for those companies which are interested in receiving data on habits, purchases, and routes of users. This is a fairly legitimate practice since all these issues are covered in the User Agreements. However, the experts emphasize the users could often be unaware of the developers reading their mail.
As we can see, a contemporary digital world calls for extra precaution to different User Agreements, as well as to the permissions that we ourselves provide to third-party developers and apps. It might readily be the case that the third parties are able to view your mail, and you are not aware of that despite it has been your choice that accepted such a condition.
We dare hope this article will give you better insight into the advanced routines available for managing permissions for applications and controlling access to your emails. In addition to permission controls, some privacy centered-users started using VPN services that allow encrypting all traffic including email correspondence. VPNs and Proxy used to be words that only developers or hackers used but these days more and more people talk about them.