you’re like most of us, your Outlook email account is full of important
personal and business information. The last thing you want to happen is to have
a stranger access your email account—or
worse yet, to get locked out of your Outlook email account with no way to get
It’s no secret that hackers are after your email data. We
read about new data breaches every day. And often those data breaches come
about by means of email. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Office for Civil Rights keeps a list of health
information breaches. In July of 2018 it listed 22 breaches
affecting thousands of individuals. Of those 22 breaches, seven (or nearly a
third) involved email.
there are several Outlook security measures that you can take to protect your
Outlook email. In this tutorial, we’ll show you what you need to know about
Outlook security. Learn how to choose strong passwords and keep them secure. Learn
how to use the Outlook security settings. And finally, discover some Microsoft email
security best practices such as how set up user authentication.
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Before we explore how to secure Microsoft Outlook email, let’s look at another important part of managing your Outlook email account. Our Free eBook: The Ultimate Guide to Inbox Zero Mastery is packed with inbox
organization strategies and killer tips for managing all your incoming email
Now let’s dive into our tutorial on Microsoft email security.
Email Best Practices for Strong Security
The first step in keeping your Outlook email secure is to put
some email security best practices in place. These practices apply to most
email software including Microsoft Outlook.
am not an information securities expert. This post is based on a compilation of
recommended best practices and my own experiences as an Outlook email user.
are six ways you can help protect your Outlook email account:
1. Use a Password
Unless you’re using Outlook on a Microsoft exchange server,
you can set Outlook to prompt you for a password each time it opens (see instructions
below). A password prompt happens automatically for an Outlook.com account
since you set one up when you signed up for Outlook.com. But you may want to
set a password up separately for Outlook that’s part of Office 365.
Note: If you’re accessing your Outlook email at work
or at school, you’re probably on a Microsoft exchange server. Contact your
system administrator to find out how to change your password.
2. Pick a Strong Password
choosing a password for MS Outlook or your Microsoft account, be sure to pick a strong one. Avoid
passwords that can easily be guessed such as the names of friends, family
members or pets. Birthdays, addresses, and phone numbers are also poor choices
for passwords since the information may be available elsewhere.
When it comes to passwords, longer passwords are harder for
intruders to guess. The best passwords include a combination of upper and lower-case
letters, numbers, and symbols. Stay away from stand-alone password generators,
which are sometimes set up disreputable parties to gain access to password
make sure your Outlook password is different from your other passwords. If a
third party should happen to get access to your account, you don’t want them to
have access to all your accounts.
a great resource to help you learn even more about passwords:
Picking Passwords: Pitfalls, Practicalities and Protection
Store Passwords Securely
you’ve chosen a strong password, be sure to store it securely. An online
password manager such as Dashlane, Keeper, or Sticky Password are
good options for keeping your passwords away from prying eyes. Make sure to
choose a strong and memorable password for your password manager—you’ll
have to remember this one. Here are some other password managers and tutorials
on how to use them:
you do, don’t keep your password on a Post-It note stuck to your laptop,
especially if you work from a shared space. Also, don’t keep password
information on a list in a Word or Excel doc on your PC unless that document is
password protected. If your PC happens to get stolen, you don’t want the thief
to find all your password information at once!
4. Change the Password Periodically
disagree about how often you should change your password, but they do agree
that sometimes changing passwords can keep others from using your account. That
way, if someone does get a hold of your password, there’s a chance that the
information they’ve got isn’t current. Of course, changing your password isn’t
a substitute for picking a strong password.
only do you need to change your Outlook inbox password regularly, if you’re
using Office 365 you should also update your Microsoft account password
regularly. Your Microsoft account password is important because it’s the key to
using all your Microsoft products including Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint,
and so on.
5. Add Two-Step Verification
verification is a type of user authentication that uses two forms of
identification to confirm your identity. Forms of identification may include your
email address or your phone number.
verification is used when you try to do sensitive tasks such as reset your
password as well as when you try to retrieve your account information.
Typically a code is sent to either your phone or your email. To access your
account, you’ll need to enter the code as well as your password. The purpose of
two-step verification is to keep someone else from accessing or changing your
Keep Outlook (and Your Browser) Updated
updates are in important part of keeping your data secure. Updates are often
published to enhance software security or to fix security issues that arise. By
not keeping your Outlook software and your browser up-to-date you could be leaving them vulnerable.
How to Protect Your Outlook Email Account
The steps in this section are specific to Outlook 365. If
you’ve got an older version of Outlook, work on Outlook.com, or if you access your
Outlook through a Microsoft Exchange server, these steps may not work for you.
Step 1. Set a Password for Your Outlook Inbox
you know that you can set Outlook up to prompt you for a password each time you
open it? Here what to do:
Start with MS Outlook open and click the File tab on the left of the inbox:
Outlook Account Information window
on the Account Settings button and
choose Account Settings again from
the drop-down menu. The Account Settings
dialog box displays:
Select the Data Files
tab. You’ll see various types of Outlook data files (.pst files) including the
archive file and inbox file. To have Outlook prompt you for a password when you
open your inbox, double-click on the inbox data file. The Outlook Data File box appears:
Click the Change
Password button. At the prompt, type your new password twice and click OK. Click OK again.
Note: If you don’t
currently have an inbox password set up, leave the space for your old password
Important: Microsoft won’t
be able to retrieve this password for you if you lose it, so be sure to save it
in a secure place.
2. Change Your Password
Passwords should be updated on a regular basis. In this
section I’ll show you how to update the password for your Outlook inbox and the
password for your Microsoft account.
1. How to Change Your Outbox Inbox Password
Once you’ve created a password for your inbox, you’ll need
to update it regularly. From the Outlook Account
Information window, select Account
Settings > Accounting Settings. The Account
Settings dialog box appears:
Select the Data Files
tab. Double-click on the inbox data file (inbox.pst). The Outlook Data File box appears:
the Change Password button. At the
prompt, type your current password in the Old
password field. Type your new password in the New password field and again in the Verify password field.
Note: Be sure to keep this password in a secure place
where you can access it if needed. Microsoft doesn’t keep this information and
can’t retrieve it should you lose it.
you’re done entering a new password, click OK
and then Close. You’ve just changed your password.
to Change the Password for Your Microsoft Account
only should you change the password for your Outlook inbox, if you’re using
Outlook with Office 365 you should also change your Microsoft account password
on a regular basis.
change your Microsoft Account password, log into your Microsoft account. Click
your user profile icon in the upper right corner. From the drop-down menu,
select View Microsoft account. Your
Microsoft account information displays.
the Security option from the menu
across the top of the screen. The Security
basics window appears:
the Change Password button. You’ll
be prompted to verify your identity by through email or text. Follow the
instructions to verify your identity. You’ll see the Change your password screen:
Type your current password in the top field. Type the new
password in the two fields below.
the check box next to the words Make me
change my password every 72 days. If you check this, you’ll be prompted to
change your password in 72 days. Checking this box can be a good idea if you have
trouble remembering to change your password.
When you’ve finished, click Save to save your changes.
Step 3. Check Your Security Settings
you’re on the Security basics
screen, it’s a good idea to check your Microsoft security settings. Click the Update Info button to view your current
Microsoft account security settings. These settings are important because it
determines how Microsoft verifies your identity. Here’s the Microsoft Security Settings window:
Make sure that the information displayed is correct. If it’s
wrong, use the Remove link to remove
the incorrect information. Click the Add
security info link to add new or updated information.
4. Set Up Two-Step Verification
can also use the Security Settings window
to set up two-step verification for
your Microsoft account. Click the more
options link in the text at the bottom of the screen. You’ll see the Additional security options window:
you can see, there are several security options available. For this tutorial we
want to focus on the Two-step verification. This is a good identity safe guard
for most users. Click the Set up
two-step verification link to start the process.
system will walk you through the process of setting this protection up according to
your specific situation. Be sure to read each screen carefully and follow the
instructions as given.
5. Check for and Install the Latest MS Outlook Updates
software updates is often overlooked, yet it’s an important part of keeping
your account secure. To make sure that you’re using the latest version of Outlook
(and other MS Office Software) go to the Outlook Account Information window. From the navigation pane on the left,
click Office Account. The Microsoft Product
Information window displays:
you can see, the window includes information about your Outlook software,
including the current version. To update Outlook, click the top button next to Office Updates. A drop-down menu
Several update options display. For the purposes of this
tutorial, I’m going to select Update Now.
If your version of Office is current, you’ll receive a prompt that says You’re up to date!
the instructions on the prompt. You may be required to restart your computer.
Your Microsoft apps are automatically updated.
Don’t forget to also update your browser regularly.
Learn More About How to Use Email Effectively
you’re a business owner or a business professional, email is an important
communications tool. It’s important to make sure your emails are as
professional as possible. These tutorials can help:
you need to become better at using MS Outlook, check out the rest of our handy
Outlook Tutorials in the series: What Is MS Outlook? (Pro Email Software
better manage your email inbox and keep your incoming emails organized, don’t
forget to sign up to theTuts+ Business newsletter and grab our free eBook: The
Ultimate Guide to Inbox Zero Mastery. It’s packed with inbox organization
strategies and killer tips for managing all your incoming email more
Your Outlook Email Account Today
Now that you know several Outlook security measures you can
take, you’re ready to protect your Outlook email. You’ve learned how to choose
strong passwords and how to use the Outlook security settings. We’ve also
discussed email security best practices such as how set up user authentication
Your Outlook email account is an important part of how you
run your business. Be sure to take full advantage of Outlook security best