Email Security – How Can I Make Sure My Account Is Safe?

Email Security – How Can I Make Sure My Account Is Safe?

It’s a common problem – one I see and hear about practrically every day. You turn on your computer to check your emails and enter your username and password, (or maybe your computer has this automatically saved but this morning it’s asking you for your details). This morning, whatever you type in, the “computer says no!”

You think you’re having a senior moment (which you might be!), but no matter what you type you can’t get into your account. Then you get a phone call from a friend who tells you that they have received a “strange” email from you saying that you’re stuck in Madrid / Barcelona / (insert whichever city you like) and need money to be sent. It slowly dawns on you that your account has been compromised and you can’t get into it. You start to remember all the things you need your account for – that boarding pass email you havent printed off yet, the house insurance renewal email that still needs to be replied to and you start to feel that your right arm has been sawn off. It’s amazing how much we rely on email nowadays but don’t use secure passwords and then wonder why our accounts get “hacked” for want of a better word. I bet each and every one of you reading this knows at least one person that this has happened to.

So what can you do to protect yourself? Well thankfully you can do quite a lot, but you need to do it now – don’t wait until your account is compromised, it will be too late then!

All of the “big” free email systems have the facility to add extra security information that will help you get your account back if the worst happens. I will cover Hotmail (or Microsoft Outlook as its now called) and Gmail as they are the most commonly used systems in my experience.

Hotmail / Microsoft Outlook

Microsoft have a number of additional security features that you can add to your account to help you recover it in the event of you loosing access to it. These can be found in the “security info” section of your account and to get here just log onto your account and click on your name in the top right hand portion of the screen, choose “Account Settings”, and then “Security Info”. From here you can add alternative email addresses and alternative mobile phone numbers so if you get locked out of your account you can ask Microsoft to send any account reset information to your alternative email address or mobile phone number so that you can get access again to your account.

Microsoft enforce a 30 day change limit on this information to protect you from someone getting into your account and attempting to change this additional security information, therefore if you have it set up properly and you access your account at least once every 30 days, you should never have any problems with your account being compromised – do it now while you are thinking about it.


Google have similar facilities for their Google account users. You can find your security information by logging onto Gmail, clicking on the little arrow next to your name in the top right of the screen and choosing “Account” from here you can click on “Security” to get into the relevant section.

Here you can also add an alternative email address and mobile phone number in the “Recovery options” Section. Again this is only useful if you add this information now, when you can still access your account, so that in the event of a problem you can use it to recover your account.