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18 Mar 2022

Make your Outlook account super secure in under 5 minutes

Taking some time out of your day to check your settings means your Outlook email account is protected against hackers

If you're constantly sending and receiving emails, your inbox will be home to personal information that you'd rather keep to yourself. In our quick guide, we explain how you can add an extra layer of protection to your Outlook account.

Playing around with your Outlook security settings isn't as fiddly as it sounds. In fact, you can get the job done in five steps. Once you're done, any suspicious login attempts will be flagged on your smartphone and through your second email address if you have one.

Below, we run through some of the best ways to ensure your Outlook account is safe and sound. To save you some time, we've stuck to the features that matter the most. If you want to follow along, we suggest you do so from a PC.

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Securing your Outlook account: the quick version

These five quick steps will help you secure your account. If you want more detail about what to do and why, keep scrolling.

  1. Head to the Security basics page
  2. Select Advanced security optionsand then, underAdditional security, choose Two-step verification
  3. Select Verify my identity with an appand follow the on-screen instructions to set up the Outlook Authenticator app
  4. If you have a second email address, under Ways to prove who you are, select Add a new way to sign in or verifyand Email a code
  5. For bonus points, make your text-based password as strong as it can be and consider protecting your PC with antivirus software

Securing your Outlook account: in more detail

Set up the Authenticator app

The free Authenticator app acts as an extra layer of protection. When you sign in to your Outlook account on a new device, you'll need to approve the action from a paired smartphone or tablet. In other words, if a hacker is trying to access your account, they'll be stopped in their tracks.

To get started, head to Outlook's Security basics page. If you're not already logged in, you'll need to sign in to your account using your email address and password.

This will bring you to the Outlook Security page (shown below). From here, you can monitor sign-ins to your account, set a strong password and access advanced security options.

For now, we want to enable two-step verification (2FA), so select Two-step verification in the top-right corner. Then, under the Additional security heading, select Turn on for Two-step verification.

Follow the on-screen instructions. To finish setting up, you'll need to verify who you are by using the Authenticator app, an alternate email address or a phone number. Select Verify my identity with an app.

Now, you'll need to download the Authenticator app onto your phone:

On your computer screen, you'll see a QR code that you need to scan using your mobile. From your phone screen, within the app, select thethree dots in the top-right and then Add account. Choose Scan a QR code and point your camera at the symbol on your PC.

If you've done everything correctly, you'll see your email address displayed within the Authenticator app.

Test the Authenticator app

Log out of your email on your computer so you can see the Authenticator app in action. Attempt to log back in by entering in your email address. Rather than asking for your password, you'll see a screen (shown below, left) telling you to check Authenticator.

On your phone, you'll see a sign-in request (shown below, right). Click Approveand you'll now have access to your emails.

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Add an additional email address

By linking an additional email address to your Outlook account, you'll get an email alert if Outlook detects a suspicious login on your main account.

From the Security basics page, select Advanced security options. UnderWays to prove who you are, choose Add a new way to sign in or verify. Click Email a codeand you'll be asked to add an alternate email address.

Outlook will then send a code to that second email. Grab the code and enter it. If you've done everything correctly, you'll see your second email address listed under Email a code (shown below).

Create a strong password

The stronger your password, the better. If you think your current password could do with a refresh, under Ways to prove who your are, selectChange password. When coming up with a new password, consider the following:

  • Make sure all of your passwords across different services are unique
  • Don't use personal information in your password, such as your pet's name or your partner's name
  • Pick a long password - they're harder to crack
  • Try working special characters ('!', '£', '*') and numbers into your new password

From this same screen, you can also choose to have Outlook ask for a new password every 72 days.

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Protect your PC with antivirus software

Teaming up with reliable antivirus software protects your computer against various threats, including viruses and ransomware designed to steal your personal information.

There are plenty of free and paid-for antivirus packages battling for your attention. Although some free options will effectively keep an eye on your computer, we've seen others that are annoying to use and let down by constant pop-ups.

For every antivirus package that we test, we check to see how well it protects against malware. We also note how easy it is to install, along with the effect it has on the speed of your computer.

To see which antivirus packages have impressed in our security tests, see our guide: Best antivirus software 2022.

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