Last night I was snuggling in bed with my son, Owen. We were playing a farm game together (him on his tablet, me on my phone) that he loves. I wanted to help him out by buying some in-game currency for him, and it went through Google Wallet just fine.
A few minutes later I got a message saying my email had been disconnected, so I tried to log in again. When I did, I got a message that said my Google account had been disabled. I tried a few more times and just figured I was entering my intricate password incorrectly on the small screen. I decided to worry about it in the morning on my laptop and didn’t worry about it anymore.
This morning when I woke up I had the same issue, so I Googled it. After reading a few horror stories of people never recovering their accounts, I was scared. This wasn’t just a personal email inbox, this was my Google Apps main account. I didn’t have access to my email, my Google Drive where I keep client work, my business information, my SOP guide, my contracts, EVERYTHING. I also couldn’t log into accounts that I normally sign into with Google, like Asana, one of our project management systems.
Through my Googling, I found an online form which I submitted, but people were reporting not getting a response for weeks. Weeks??? I definitely couldn’t wait weeks for my stuff.
I hopped on Slack and asked my team if their company emails were okay, and it looks like they were (phew!). Most clients use our email@example.com email address, so I knew I wouldn’t be missing too many client emails during this little fiasco.
Then Melissa tells me that she received an email the night before from Google, thought it was weird, and forwarded it to me. It said:
The following is an automated security notification from Google about your domain accounts.
It has come to our attention that some of your user accounts from your domain: entreleverage.com might have been compromised.
The following users in your Google Apps domain appear to be affected:
We have disabled the users in a way that they can be recovered by the admin. Please follow the actions below in order to secure these users.
I forgot I had even made her an admin a year or two ago, but I was so glad that I did. Because of this, she was able to log in and re-enable my account, and all I had to do was reset my password. I’m so grateful that I have someone who works with me that I can trust.
But what if you don’t?
After my moment of gratefulness was over, I was scared again. What if I never made her an admin? I’d be waiting weeks for a response from Google and even then I might not get my account back. I decided I also needed a backup solution.
I have 10 users in my Google Apps Organization, 3 of which are me. I use firstname.lastname@example.org for private correspondence with clients and for all other major emailing. I use email@example.com as a shared inbox for my team, and this is where clients email when they need something. I also have firstname.lastname@example.org for newsletters and other stuff I don’t want clogging up my main inbox.
If you are the only user in your organization, go in there RIGHT NOW (I’m not kidding!) and set up a new user. Call it info@, support@, or anything you want, but make sure you make that account an admin, and you keep that password under lock and key in Last Pass or another password manager. This way, if you get locked out like I did, you can jump in and quickly reset the account like Melissa did for me.
This is easy for me because I signed up for Google Apps back when it was free and I was grandfathered in. If you’re on a paid account, it’s worth $5 a month for a more streamlined inbox and an additional admin on the account.
And if you’re wondering why my account was disabled, it was because I never buy in-game coins so Google thought it was suspicious behavior. I appreciate the security even though I signed in with my fingerprint, however, Google let me know by emailing the account they had just disabled which wasn’t really helpful.
Has anything like this ever happened to you?
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