Friday, August 24, 2012

Automatic detection of a Google Mail log in

In the past I've written about measures I've taken to protect my Google Mail account: I use long random passwords and Google's two-factor authentication with no recovery options and I have a tempting canary waiting for any intruder.

But to further protect my account I created a system that automatically tells me when a log in occurs on my Google Mail account. The system sends me an SMS whenever there's a new log in. The system is able to distinguish a machine that's used on different IP addresses (such as when I move my laptop from home to an office) and brand new log ins from machines that have never been seen before. And unlike the canary it doesn't require any action. It happens automatically.

Here's the SMS chronicle of a trip to the San Francisco office of CloudFlare and my return home. The first SMS was received because I logged in in my hotel, later I went to the CloudFlare office and a few days later I returned home.


I'm posting this because I'm curious whether anyone else would like this as a service. How much would it be worth to you?

If you enjoyed this blog post, you might enjoy my travel book for people interested in science and technology: The Geek Atlas. Signed copies of The Geek Atlas are available.

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