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10 Tips to Secure an Outlook Account [2024] 💥

Tips to Secure an Outlook Account

Securing your Outlook or Microsoft account is crucial, especially if it's linked to your Windows sign-in. Whether you use Outlook.com for email or utilize a Microsoft account to access your PC, safeguarding your account is paramount. Your email account is a key to almost everything you do online, and if compromised, it can put your personal and professional data at risk.

In this article, we will provide essential tips to strengthen the security of your Microsoft Outlook account. By implementing these measures, you can protect not only your email but also your computer from unauthorized access. Let's dive into the strategies to fortify your account and ensure your digital safety.


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Chapter 1: Enable Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a crucial security measure that adds an extra layer of protection to your Microsoft account. In addition to your password, 2FA requires a verification code from an app or a text message to log in. This ensures that even if your password is compromised, unauthorized access to your account is still prevented.

To activate 2FA for your Microsoft account, visit the Microsoft account security page and select the 'Security' tab. Under 'Advanced security options,' click 'Get started' and navigate to the 'Two-step verification' section. Follow the prompts to set up verification via text message, an authenticator app, or other methods.

While there are various 2FA methods available, using an authentication app like Authy is recommended for a balance of security and convenience. Microsoft also offers passwordless logins, providing an alternative option for secure access to your account.

Chapter 2: Strengthening Your Outlook Password

Ensuring a strong password for your Outlook account is a critical security measure. Avoid using passwords that are easily guessable or common across various sites. A robust password should be a minimum of 12 characters long, incorporating a blend of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.

To update your password, navigate to login.live.com, sign in, and select 'My Microsoft account' from the dropdown menu under your profile picture. Within your account settings, locate and click on the 'Change password' link. If this option isn't immediately visible, click on 'Security' followed by 'Change my password.'

After verifying your current password, input your new password twice. Although optional, you can choose to activate the 'Make me change my password every 72 days' feature for added security. While this isn't mandatory with a strong password, it's beneficial to refresh it periodically. For efficient password management, consider adopting a password manager.

Chapter 3: Diversify Your Login Methods for Enhanced Security

Using a Microsoft account for Windows sign-in also syncs your Outlook email password with your PC's login credentials. Although convenient, this presents two significant security concerns.

Firstly, a complex password, while more secure, becomes cumbersome to enter frequently. This may tempt you to simplify your email password for easier PC access. Secondly, if a malicious actor compromises your PC password through methods like keylogging, they gain access to your email as well.

To mitigate these risks, consider adopting alternative login methods provided by Windows Hello. These options range from PIN and picture locks to biometric authentication such as fingerprint and facial recognition on supported devices.

To set up an alternative login method on Windows 10, go to Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options. Explore the available options and click 'Add' under your preferred method. A PIN, for instance, strikes a balance between security and convenience, as it's specific to your device and doesn't compromise your email security.

Chapter 4: Maintain Exclusive Access to Your Account

While it may seem obvious, it's crucial to emphasize that sharing your email account can significantly increase the risk of security breaches. Each additional user adds another potential point of vulnerability, whether through falling victim to phishing attacks, inadvertently altering security settings, or other errors.

In most cases, there's no justifiable reason for others to access your personal email. If you've previously shared your email password with anyone or allowed someone to use your account, it's time to update your password and revoke their access. For situations that require a shared inbox, consider creating a dedicated account specifically for that purpose, minimizing the risk to your primary email.

Chapter 5: Audit Your Account's Trusted Devices

Given the variety of devices that can access your Microsoft account, it's prudent to periodically review your active sessions. This ensures that your account isn't connected to any outdated or unfamiliar devices.

Access your account's associated devices by selecting 'All devices' under the 'Devices' section on your Microsoft account dashboard. Verify that each listed device, including PCs, phones, and gaming consoles, legitimately belongs to you. If you spot an unrecognized device or one you no longer use, opt to 'Remove device' to revoke its access.

Additionally, if you've previously enabled two-factor authentication (2FA), consider purging your list of app passwords. Navigate to 'Security' on your account page, click 'Get started' under 'Advanced security options,' and then under 'App passwords,' choose 'Remove existing app passwords' followed by 'Remove.' This action will log you out of devices that are incompatible with 2FA, such as older smartphones or the Xbox 360.

To further secure your account, you can select 'Sign me out' under the same heading to sign out of all devices except Xbox consoles. While these measures may seem extensive, minimizing your account's exposure across devices and platforms is a crucial step in safeguarding your digital security.

Chapter 6: Review Account Activity Regularly

It's crucial to routinely inspect the activity logs of your Outlook account to ensure that all recorded actions are genuinely yours.

To scrutinize your account's history, navigate to your Microsoft account's security settings and click on 'View my activity' under 'Sign-in activity.' Scrutinize your recent sign-ins for any anomalies or unauthorized access attempts.

Each entry provides detailed information, including the platform, browser, and the success status of the sign-in attempt. If you encounter any suspicious activity, promptly click the corresponding entry to alert Microsoft and initiate necessary security measures.

Chapter 7: Password Protect Your PST File

If you're utilizing the desktop version of Outlook, a crucial tip is to secure your PST file with a password. The PST file is where your email data is stored locally. While Microsoft warns that a PST password isn't foolproof against determined hackers, it can deter casual snooping by others who may have access to your computer.

To add a password to your PST file, launch Outlook and navigate to File > Account Settings > Account Settings. In the Data Files tab, select the PST file you wish to secure and click Settings. Choose Change Password, input a new password (up to 15 characters), and confirm it. Remember that this method is not applicable for Microsoft Exchange accounts, which are typically used in corporate environments.

Chapter 8: Keep Your Account Recovery Information Current

Maintaining up-to-date recovery information for your Outlook account is essential for regaining access in case of a lockout. This typically involves setting up a recovery email address or phone number. To manage these, visit your Microsoft account security settings.

Under the Security tab, navigate to Advanced security options and review your current security details. You can remove outdated methods and add new ones to ensure you have multiple ways for Microsoft to contact you. This is crucial for account recovery, especially if you forget your password or suspect unauthorized access. For more detailed steps on recovering your account, check out our guide on how to recover a hacked Outlook account.

If you don't have a backup email, consider creating an account with another email service provider for this purpose. Having at least two alternate contact methods greatly simplifies the recovery process.

Chapter 9: Be Aware of Phishing

Email phishing is a common tactic used by cybercriminals to trick you into revealing sensitive information, such as your Outlook account credentials. These fraudulent emails often appear to be from legitimate sources, urging you to take immediate action.

To protect yourself, avoid clicking on links in suspicious emails. If you receive a message that seems to require your attention, it's safer to visit the official website directly by typing the URL into your browser. Be skeptical of emails that ask you to verify your Outlook password or claim you need to upgrade your mailbox size; these are almost certainly scams.

Remember, Microsoft and other reputable companies will never ask for your password via email. Similarly, be cautious of SMS texts threatening account deletion unless you act quickly; these are also attempts to compromise your security.

Chapter 10: Utilize Alias Accounts to Conceal Your Real Address

Implementing aliases for your email account is a clever way to distribute alternative email addresses that still funnel messages to your primary inbox. These aliases can be instrumental in pinpointing sources of unwanted emails. From a security perspective, they effectively mask your genuine address.

To introduce an alias to your account, navigate to the top of the screen and click on Your Info. Next, select Edit account info in the Account info section. Here, you can opt to Add email or Add phone number, or eliminate any existing ones as necessary.

When adding a new email alias, you have the option to Create a new email address and add it as an alias, which generates a new @outlook.com address. Alternatively, you can incorporate an existing email address from any provider into your account.

Each alias allows you to sign into your Microsoft account, share a common password, and send and receive emails. Additionally, by selecting Change sign-in preferences on the aliases page, you can restrict an alias from being used to access your Microsoft account.

This strategy enables you to create an alias that can receive emails while preventing its use for unauthorized access to your account. By keeping your primary address private, you add an extra layer of security.

Microsoft permits the addition of up to 10 aliases each calendar year, with a maximum of 10 aliases allowed on your account at any given time. For more details on setting up aliases, read our guide on how to set up aliases in Outlook.


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