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Lock your Microsoft 365 account to avoid spying, here’s how



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Over the weekend, news broke that foreign hackers had been in secret for months monitor email accounts and exchanges between the U.S. Treasury Department and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which, according to Reuters, are accessed through Microsoft̵

7;s Office 365 software. The attack was sophisticated enough to mislead Microsoft’s authentication controls, the report said.

The attack casts doubt on the integrity of Microsoft’s software on the market. The company has released guidelines for how organizations can strengthen security to avoid these attacks, and said it has not identified vulnerabilities in Microsoft products. But if you turn on your work or personal email through Outlook Microsoft 365, there are also ways to make your individual account more secure to avoid hacks. (If you use Windows 10, there are also various security standards that you can change to better protect your device.)

Here are five ways to lock your Microsoft account.

Read more: How to get Microsoft 365 for free

1. Set up multi-factor authentication

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

To set up multi-factor authentication (also called two-factor authentication), visit the Security Basics page and sign in with your Microsoft account. Select More security options. below Two-step verification, Select Set up two-step verification to enable it and get further instructions.

To set it up on a work Microsoft 365 account, your administrator must enable it. Once that’s done you will be prompted for more information when you log in with your username and password. Click The next.

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

Or, if you prefer to receive a code via SMS, you can choose ‘I want to set a different method’. Microsoft will ask for your mobile number and send you a text message with a six-digit code to verify your account.

Read more: The best antivirus protection for Windows 10

2. Protect your password

Never use the same password for multiple accounts. There are many great ones password managers available to help you keep track of all your passwords, including the free ones CNET Editor’s Choice, LastPass. You should also choose a strong password – one that avoids the use of common words and is at least eight characters long. Check out our others recommendations for choosing a strong password here.

3. Prevent phishing attacks

If you receive an email regarding the security of your Microsoft account, it could be a phishing scam – a type of attack in which hackers impersonate a company or someone you know to trick you into disclosing personal information such as passwords or credit card numbers. These emails often contain a link to a malicious website that you should never click on.

The best way to avoid these emails is to know how to spot them – they could have words misspelled, come from a slightly misspelled source (such as microsoftsupport.ru or micros0ft.com), or an urgent call record to take action or avoid a threat. If something looks suspicious, delete it or report it by forwarding it to the Anti-Phishing Working Group at phishing-report@us-cert.gov.

4. Protect your apps

Only install and run apps on your phone or desktop from legitimate sources, such as the app store for your device. If you’re using Microsoft 365, using Microsoft apps to access those accounts is the safest choice, the company said. You should also make sure all apps and your operating system are up to date – many of the updates you get are security fixes, so make sure to install them quickly.

5. Make it easy to recover your account

You can set up your account so that you can easily recover it in case all else fails and you get hacked. To do that, go to the basics of Microsoft security and add all the information such as your email address and phone number. To keep your account more secure, make sure to keep this information up to date.

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


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