Inactive accounts are vulnerable to cyberattacks because they often use weak or reused passwords. Image Credit: Agency

Google is set to begin deleting inactive accounts that had remained unused for two years starting December, 2023, in a bid to prevent security threats including hacks. The company made the announcement earlier this year, but the deadline is now just a few weeks away.

Earlier this year, the company has announced that it may delete inactive accounts after two years of no sign-in activity. This includes accounts across Google Workspace, such as Gmail, Docs, Drive, Meet, and Calendar, as well as YouTube and Google Photos.

In 2020, Google had said it would remove content stored in an inactive account, but not delete the account itself. Google will send multiple notifications to the account email address and recovery mail of the inactive accounts before deletion.

Who is at risk?

Beginning in December, any Google account that remains inactive for two years or longer may be deleted along with its contents, including those stored in Google Workspace. The new rule only applies to personal Google Accounts and not to those for organisations like schools or businesses.

Why Google is deleting the accounts?

In a blog post written in May of this year, Google asserts that inactive accounts are more susceptible to compromise because they are not actively used or monitored, and users are more likely to use old or reused passwords.

"This is because forgotten or unattended accounts often rely on old or re-used passwords that may have been compromised, haven't had two-factor authentication set up, and receive fewer security checks by the user," the post read.

"Our internal analysis shows abandoned accounts are at least 10x less likely than active accounts to have two-step verification set up. These accounts are often vulnerable, and once an account is compromised, it can be used for anything from identity theft to a vector for unwanted or even malicious content, like spam."

How to keep your account active

The simplest way to keep a Google Account active is to sign in at least once every two years, the company said in its blog post dated May 2023. If you have signed into your Google Account or any of our services recently, your account is considered active and will not be deleted. Activity might include these types of actions you take when you sign in or while you’re signed in to your Google Account:

  • Reading or sending an email
  • Using Google Drive
  • Watching a YouTube video
  • Downloading an app on the Google Play Store
  • Using Google Search
  • Using Sign in with Google to sign in to a third-party app or service