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How to secure Gmail and stop developers reading your messages

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How to secure Gmail and stop developers reading your messages


Google has been giving third-party developers access to your emails. 

Here is how to run a simple Gmail security check-up to regain your privacy

Google’s business is in data. The data it gathers from each time its products are used – from maps to search – allows it to personalise the adverts it sells. The more targeted an advert is, the more money can be made from it. But not all data.

In 2017 Google drew a line in the sand: emails are off limits. The firm announced after a decade of scanning and reading emails to help with personalisation it would stop the practice. User information should "remain confidential", Google said at the time.

There has been an exception to the rule. Companies that build handy add-ons for Gmail, which allow emails to be scheduled or calendar information to be extracted, have been able to read people's emails. As first reported by the Washington Post, the developers of hundreds of apps have been able to read people's emails, including entire messages, who they were sent to and other private details.

Human engineers from firms such as Return Path (an email marketing company) and Edison Software (the creators of an email app), the Wall Street Journal reported, have been able to read the emails of those that use their programs. 

This reading hasn't just been limited to machines but also includes humans who have had manual access. The third-party developers have used this access to improve their own software.

The first place to visit when locking down your Gmail account – and everything else you use Google for – is on the security settings dashboard. 


This explains how your account could be more secure and shows when new devices have logged in. You can also review app passwords and turn on two-factor authentication. And yes, you should turn it on.

How to revoke third-party app permissions for your Google account


It's a fairly simple process, and you should probably check your app permissions every few months to make sure you're OK with the apps you've given permission too.

Visiting your app permissions page on both mobile and PC/Mac because app permissions may be different, depending on what device you use them on.

  1. Navigate to your Google Security Page from a web browser.
  2. Click on Apps with account access from the side menu on PC or Mac or scroll down to the section on mobile.
  3. Click or tap on Manage Apps.


      4. Click or tap on an App you want to revoke access to.

      5. Click or tap on Remove Access.

You should do this for any apps you no longer use.

What happens when you revoke access to your Google account for third-party apps

In some instances, like basic information permissions, you're simply going to be logged out of an app or game and have to allow permission again if you want to use it again.

For apps that request read and write permissions, you'll be logged out of the app and it will no longer have access to your Gmail, Google Calendar, Google+, Google Drive, contacts, or other information you've previously given permission to before.

For apps that ask for full access, they won't be able to delete your Google account, change your password, or send money to themselves through your Google Pay account. Revoke those and don't look back.

For any app that you revoke permission for, you can always give permission again in the future. Most of the information will sync with Google and you won't lose data anyway. 

You might have to rebuild task lists, or you might lose PDFs you saved to Google Drive using the app, but it shouldn't be too big of a process if you revoke an app and decide to give permission back at a later date.

However, as a word of warning, if you remove access to third-party developers it is highly likely that some of the services you have been using will not work in the same way, if at all.

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