Doing these 5 things can help you lock down your Microsoft 365 account and keep hackers at bay

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Keep hackers out of your Microsoft 365 account with these tips.

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Earlier this year, news broke that foreign pirates had secretly been monitoring email accounts and communications between US government officials responsible for identifying foreign threats to national security. The attackers executed their intrusion via malicious code into a computer product called Solar winds, which allowed them to access the network and break into Microsoft’s email client.

Microsoft has published advice on how organizations can strengthen security to try to avoid these attacks, and said it has not identified any vulnerabilities in Microsoft products.

There may not be much you can do about the SolarWinds vulnerability or other similar vulnerabilities. But if you receive your work or personal mail through Outlook on Microsoft 365, there are ways to better secure your individual account and prevent hacks. (If you use Windows 10, there is also several security defaults that you can change to better protect your device – many of which will also be available in the next Windows 11.)

Here are five ways to lock your Microsoft account.

Read more: How to get Microsoft 365 for free

1. Configure multi-factor authentication

Multifactor authentication is the best way to protect yourself against the theft of your login credentials, according to the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. Basically, it adds an extra layer of security to logging into your account – for example, you enter your password with a verification code sent to your phone or provided by an authenticator app.

To set up multi-factor authentication (also known as two-step verification), go to the Security basics page and sign in with your Microsoft account. To select More security options. Under Two-step verification, Choose Set up two-step verification to turn it on and get further instructions.

To set it up for a Microsoft 365 work account, your administrator will need to enable it. Once done, when you log in with your username and password, you will be prompted for more information. Click on Next.

The default authentication method is to use the free Microsoft Authenticator app, which you can download to your mobile device. This app gives you a unique code to enter which expires after a certain time.

Or, if you prefer to receive a code by SMS, you can choose “I want to configure another method”. Microsoft will ask for your mobile number and send you an SMS with a six-digit code to verify your account.

Read more: The best virus protection for Windows 10

2. Protect your password

Never use the same password for multiple accounts. There are a lot of super password managers available to help you keep track of all your passwords, including the Last pass. You should also choose a strong password, which avoids using common words and is at least eight characters long. Discover our others recommendations for choosing a strong password here.

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Using a password manager is an easy way to keep your accounts secure.

Angela Lang / CNET

3. Avoid phishing scams

If you receive an email regarding the security of your Microsoft account, it might be a Phishing – a type of attack where hackers pose as a company or person you know to trick you into revealing personal information such as passwords or credit card numbers. These emails often include a link to a malicious website, which you should never click on.

The best way to avoid these emails is to know how to spot them – they can have misspelled words, come from a slightly misspelled source (like microsoftsupport.ru or micros0ft.com), or include an urgent call to take actions or avoid a threat. If anything looks suspicious, simply remove it or report it by forwarding it to the Anti-Phishing Task Force at [email protected]

4. Protect your applications

On your phone or desktop, only install and run apps from legitimate sources, like the app store for your device. If you use Microsoft 365, using Microsoft apps to access these accounts is the safest choice, according to the company. You should also make sure that all apps as well as your operating system are up to date – a lot of the updates you get are security fixes, so make sure you install them quickly.

5. Make it easier to recover your account

You can set up your account to make it easy to recover in case all else fails and you get hacked. To do this, go to the Microsoft Security Basics page and add all the information, such as your email address and phone number. Make sure to keep this information up to date to ensure the security of your account.

For more information, see our safety tips if you’re still using Windows 7, how to download Windows 10 for free and how to download windows 11 for free.


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