It doesn’t matter what website we use; we trust that the security of the site will be enough to keep us safe. Whether it’s Facebook or Google Ads, we log in everyday with the idea of getting hacked never entering our minds. Unfortunately, many people are hacked daily. Although we don’t like to think about it, businesses on Google Ads are often compromised when someone with high-level access is hacked.
While some will be reading this in a panic because their account has been hacked, others will be reading as a precautionary measure; we have valuable insights for both in this guide. First things first, what do you do if your Google Ads account was hacked?
Before anything else, we should note that Google has strong precautions in place for when this happens. There is a chance your Google Ads account will be suspended if they suspect the account has been compromised. As soon as this happens, your account is disabled and your campaigns will halt temporarily. This limits potential damage.
Of course, if this happens, you won’t have access to any Google products. This means that nobody on your team will have access to Gmail, YouTube or any other Google product linked with the Ads account.
Whether your account is suspended or not, you must follow the next steps to keep your account secure and reduce harm to your business. By following Google’s advice, you’ll be up and running again in no time.
Once you’ve completed these steps, Google will quickly create a plan and investigate the case. After scanning your account, it will remove any unauthorized activity; this could be changing the settings of your existing campaign, or even entirely new campaigns that you didn’t authorize. Either way, Google will stop anything you didn't do personally.
When the checks are complete and Google is satisfied with your account status, you can begin reactivation. The two-step verification set up is a matter of clearing up any confusion regarding payments that took place. After reporting the compromise, you should receive a detailed report of the investigation.
Hackers don’t often break into an account just to check analytics, so all unauthorized costs will be noted. If you find any, Google will usually reimburse the money in one of two ways. When filling the compromise report form, you can choose which of the two you prefer.
The first option is a credit adjustment, which essentially means that you’ll have credit for any future spending. The money won’t return to a bank account, but any future advertising spend will be taken from this pot of money. When it runs out, the payment model will revert back to normal.
The second option is a full refund, which is more common when costs are accrued but not yet charged. Google will write these off and the reactivation of your account should take between one and two weeks.
Please get in touch with Google if you have any questions or concerns regarding your account after reactivation. If Google isn’t aware of issues, it can’t work towards a solution. We’ve found that the Google team is skilled at helping both marketers and businesses when an account is compromised.
In this section, we want to speak to those who are reading this as a precaution (or who have been hacked previously and want to improve their account security). If you don’t have access to your account, you still need to recover it. The account recovery system is for when your account is deleted, you can’t sign in or your information has been changed or edited.
Once you have access, the first step is to check all activity on your account. This is useful for those who have been compromised as well as those who just want to learn how to keep their account secure. Click Security on your Google account, and then Review Security Events (which is on a panel called Recent Security Events). If you see some activity that you don’t recognize, select ‘No, it wasn’t me.’ Google will then take you through a process to secure your account.
Starting on your account again, choose Security and then Manage Devices (this time we’re on the Your Devices panel). Just as we did with the activity, look through the devices that have accessed your account. As a business Ads account, you should check mobile phones, tablets, laptops and any other devices associated with your team members. Get the team together and choose the ‘Don’t recognize a device?’ option whenever it’s appropriate.
At this stage, you should return to some form of normalcy. At this point, it’s important to secure your account and make sure that it’s protected for years to come. It’s impossible to eliminate the threat of hackers and scammers, but we can increase how difficult it is for them to gain access. See our helpful tips below:
It’s important to keep our banking details safe on Google. Talk to your bank and ensure that nobody has sent instructions contrary to what you have chosen yourself. In the past, we’ve seen hackers open accounts and transfer money without the account owner’s knowledge.
Two-step verification is an underused and underrated security feature that most use to set up a password login on their phone. Even if hackers steal your password, they won’t have your phone so will be unable to type in the passcode.
Biased in favor of their own browser, Google will recommend you use Chrome. We can’t argue with them because Google has the best security measures for its own products. Since Chrome is designed to be used with Google products, you should be able to keep your account safer than ever.
Another advantage of choosing Google’s browser is Password Alert, which will notify you if you’re entering your password into a web page imitating Google. This way, you can back out before losing your password to another website.
Next, make sure you have anti-virus software running on your computer. Just because your account is now secure and reactivated doesn’t mean your computer is safe. When in doubt, reset to factory settings and consider reinstalling the operating system for a fresh start—back up your files first.
While we’re discussing a hacked Google Ads account in this guide, you should improve security across every Google platform you use. There are important security measures for Google Drive, Gmail, Chrome, Location, Photos and more. For example, you can uninstall extensions on Chrome and remove any forwarding rules not set up by your team.
This is an important question, and identifying an incident can reduce stress for millions of people. On Google, you might notice the following:
If your Google Ads account has been hacked, follow our advice to get back on track. Take measures to keep your account secure and prevent it from happening again.
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