Starting this week, Google is set to delete accounts that have been inactive for at least two years, following through with a policy announced in May. The move aims to enhance security, as older accounts are more likely to use recycled passwords and lack updated security measures.
Google has been sending warnings to affected users since August. In a phased approach, the first accounts to be deleted are those created but never revisited by the user. Google accounts encompass services like Gmail, Docs, Drive, and Photos, putting all content at risk of erasure.
Exceptions include accounts with YouTube channels, remaining gift card balances, those used for digital purchases, and those with active published apps on platforms like Google Play. The move goes beyond a previous policy that wiped content from unused services without deleting the accounts themselves.
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- Security Rationale: Google’s decision to delete inactive accounts aims to address security risks, as older accounts are more susceptible to issues like phishing, hacking, and spam due to the likelihood of using recycled passwords and lacking updated security measures.
- Phased Deletion: The deletion will occur in a phased approach, starting with accounts that were created but never revisited by users. Google began sending warnings to affected users in August.
- Account Inclusions: Google accounts cover a range of services, including Gmail, Docs, Drive, and Photos. This means all content across an inactive user’s Google suite is at risk of being erased.
- Exceptions: Certain accounts are exempt from deletion, including those with YouTube channels, remaining gift card balances, accounts used for digital purchases, and accounts with active published apps on platforms like Google Play.
- Security Impact: Deleting old accounts helps enhance security by minimizing the attack surface available to cybercriminals. Old accounts are often viewed as low risk and can potentially serve as openings for malicious activities.
- Preventive Cybersecurity Trend: Google’s proactive removal of inactive accounts reflects a broader trend in cybersecurity, emphasizing preemptive steps to strengthen digital security landscapes and reduce vulnerabilities.
- User Action to Save Accounts: To prevent the deletion of accounts, users need to log in to their Google accounts or any Google service at least once every two years. This action includes reading an email, watching a video, or performing a single search, among other activities.
The move by Google aligns with the broader cybersecurity trend of taking proactive measures to enhance digital security. Deleting inactive accounts not only minimizes security risks but also reduces the potential exposure of older data that may have been leaked in previous data breaches. Users are urged to take simple actions to save their accounts from deletion by engaging with Google services within the specified timeframe.