Google To Delete Millions Of Gmail Accounts
Beginning in December, millions of Gmail accounts will be deleted by Google as it changes its rules applying to inactive users. Now any Gmail account that hasn’t been used in over two years will be deemed inactive and deleted.
Google Drive, Docs, Calendar, Meet, and Google Photos accounts with all content within will also be deleted, if there hasn’t been any activity recently.
Google says the change is required to reduce risk of inactive accounts being hijacked, and used for spam or malicious content.
Accounts at risk will be sent multiple notifications in the months leading to the removal.
This change was first announced in May, and will start with accounts that were created, but never used again. For instance, those which were used to access free trials.
If a user is worried about their account expiring, keep the account active by logging in once every two years to avoid a permanent delete.
The company said activities including reading an email, watching a YouTube video, or using Google search is enough to keep the account active.
If there are images stored on a Google Photos account, the user will need to log into the service separately to avoid photos being deleted.
Users who have an active subscription for services including news publications or apps through a Gmail account will be safe.
Accounts with videos uploaded to YouTube will also be saved. The change will also not affect business or school accounts.
Vice President for Product Management, Ruth Kricheli, said the change is necessary to “protect our users from security threats, like spam, phishing scams and account hijacking.”
Forgotten/unattended accounts are the most at risk to be compromised than those actively maintained.
This is due to old accounts often relying on out-of-date/re-used passwords, and are 10x less likely to have two-factor authentication.
“These accounts are often vulnerable, and once an account is compromised, it can be used for anything from identity theft to a vector for unwanted or even malicious content, like spam,” Ms Kricheli continued.
Recent analysis revealed hacked Gmail accounts are being sold on the dark web for a minimum of $60 USD, approximately $95 AUD.
Google advises those worried, that they should set up a recovery email to ensure access can be recovered.
Users can also download and export account data to other platforms through the Takeout feature. This creates a full backup of the account.
Through the Inactive Account Manager, users can also decide what will happen to unused accounts.
Some options include sending specific files to trusted contacts, deleting the account entirely, or setting up an automatic reply system.