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Get phone alerts for suspicious activity on your Google account

Are you often looking for the best way to protect your data online? Here's another tip to help keep you up to speed with your Google account.

The end-user is at the mercy of the service creator when it comes to how secure their data will be online. Google, fortunately, offers extra opt-in features to help ensure than no one other than you will be able to log-in and access your information. One of these security measures is the two-step authentication process.

With two-step, the user decides if they want to enter a randomly generated code each time they log in from a specific place, or if they want to enter it only every 30 days. The benefit is that if you try to log in from elsewhere, Google will ask you for the code again, thus preventing unwanted users from accessing the account. In the past, Google offered to e-mail you when an unauthorized person was attempting to log in to your two-step secured account, but now there's a new option: phone notifications.

If you are someone who gets a great deal of e-mail per day, you may have e-mail notifications silenced; otherwise, you'd be hearing a jingle on your desk or from your pocket every 15-30 minutes. By using the phone notifications for suspicious account activity -- and as long as you don't have those silent at the time, too -- you're likely to be alerted more promptly in the event that someone is trying to crack your account password. Here's how to enable those notifications:

Step 1: Log in to your Google account and click on your profile picture in the top-right corner, then choose Account. You can also click this link if you're already logged in.

Screenshot by Nicole Cozma/CNET

Step 2: On the left-hand side of the page, click the Security link. Scroll down to Notifications. You may need to verify your phone number if you have not done so in the past.

Screenshot by Nicole Cozma/CNET

Step 3: Once verified, check the boxes next to Password change and Suspicious log-in attempt.

Now you will receive these notifications on your phone, offering you a chance to know right away when someone is trying to log in. If you do receive one of these alerts, it's a good idea to change your password. If you're especially worried about the security of your account, consider reading How to check the strength of your passwords before setting a new one.

Thanks to gHacks for pointing out the new feature.