04/23/2011 12:35 pm ET Updated Jun 23, 2011

Gmail Security Tips: 5 Ways To Backup, Secure And Recover Your Account

Quick searches of Twitter and Google reveal a flurry of recent Gmail hackings, and the Guardian reports that they might be rooted in the Gawker database breach last December.

Once hacked, victims' accounts send out spam e-mails that make it appear that the sender has been mugged. If you try to respond to one of these, your message will go to a dummy address. The spam message are tweaked so that the victim won't get your response if you hit reply all.

Sophos's Graham Cluley told the Guardian, "Our suspicion is that this is a Gawker-related incident. We know that people were using the same password for multiple sites and then others were trying to use the passwords against those accounts." You might remember that Twitter was hit hard by an acai berry spam attack following the breach.

Slate's Farhad Manjoo writes, "A password is the only thing separating your e-mail, banking information, and social networks from a bad guy," and unfortunately, a complex password with letters, numbers and symbols just won't cut it anymore. Adding an additional layer of authentication -- like the key fobs required by many companies for security -- cuts down on the potential harm of a stolen password. It might seem like a lot of work, but a thief who has gained access to your Gmail account also has control over your calendars, Google Docs, Gchat, YouTube account and, of course, years of your personal email.

Read on for five essential tips for protecting and backing up your Gmail account.

Gmail Security Tips: How to Backup, Secure and Recover Your Account