Google will start removing inactive accounts this week

(CNN) — A Google account you haven’t signed in to in years may be deleted this week.

Google will continue its plan to delete accounts that have been inactive for at least two years starting Friday, December 1.

The company announced this new policy in May to avoid security risks. Internal results show that older accounts are more likely to trust recycled passwords and less likely to use up-to-date security measures like two-step verification, making them more vulnerable to problems like phishing, hacking, and spam.

Google has been sending warnings to affected users since August, with multiple alerts sent to affected accounts and backup emails submitted by users.

As Google explained in MayThe first accounts to be deleted will be those that the user created and never visited again.

“We want to protect your private information and prevent any unauthorized access to your account, even if you no longer use our services,” Google wrote in an August policy update.

Google Accounts include everything from Gmail to Docs to Drive to Photos, which means all the content in an inactive user’s set of Google services is at risk of deletion.

There are some exceptions to this measure: accounts with YouTube channels, those with a remaining gift card balance, those used to purchase a digital item like a book or movie, and those that have published active apps on a platform like the Google Play Store, the company said in August.

The decision to delete accounts goes beyond previous policy. In 2020, Google said that content from services that users stop using will be deleted, but the accounts themselves will not be deleted.

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Deleting old accounts is a key step in ensuring security, according to Oren Koren, chief procurement officer and co-founder of cybersecurity firm Veriti, who says old accounts are often considered low-risk and therefore can be a gateway for malicious actors. Deleting old accounts could force hackers to create new accounts, an action that now requires phone number verification. Additionally, scanning removes old data that may have been leaked during a data breach at some point.

“By proactively removing these accounts, Google reduces the attack surface available to cybercriminals,” Koren wrote to CNN via email. “This action by Google embodies a broader trend in cybersecurity: taking preventive measures to strengthen the overall digital security landscape.”

To save your account, all you have to do is sign in to your Google account or any Google service at least once every two years and perhaps read an email, watch a video, or perform a single search, among other activities.

Myrtle Frost

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