Microsoft doesn’t want its users to lose their passwords. It wants users to stay in complete control of their accounts.
That’s why Microsoft recently released a guide showing 8 simple steps that are guaranteed to make your PC more secure. Although Microsoft doesn’t want to say it, these tips are basically a guaranteed way to make your Microsoft account hacker-proof while also enhancing all other aspects of PC security.
Anyways, here’s how you can enhance the security of your Microsoft account and make your Microsoft account virtually impossible to penetrate:
1) Use a Strong Password, and Change It Often
-Your password should be at least 8 characters long
-It should contain a mixture of numbers, letters, and symbols or special characters
-Your password should not be connected to you in any way, shape, or form. It should not contain your name, your real name, your mom’s name, your company name, your city, or anything else someone could potentially guess.
-Your password should not contain a complete word that you would find in any dictionary (or common colloquial language like “bruh” or “bae”).
-When you change your password, it should be significantly different from previous passwords
-Your password should not be the same password you use on other websites or logins
2) Keep Your Security Info Up to Date
-Most people will agree this tip is obvious. However, most people don’t actually follow this tip.
-Keeping your security info up to date means keeping an alternate email address or phone number connected to your account. Your phone number and alternate email address may be different than when you first setup your account, so make sure you change those alternates as soon as possible.
-Microsoft promises to never use your alternate email addresses or alternate telephone numbers to sell you anything. They’re purely for security purposes. That’s nice of them.
3) Watch for Suspicious Activity
Your Microsoft Account actually has a dedicated “Activity” page you can use to monitor any recent logins or changes made to your account.
You can view that recent activity page by going to https://account.live.com/activity
If you see something wrong or unfamiliar on that page, you can click the button saying “This wasn’t me”, after which Microsoft will walk through some steps to solve your problem.
4) Install antivirus software on your PC
This is another obvious tip that most people agree is important, but few people actually practice in real life.
-Hackers steal passwords using malware which has been installed on your PC without your explicit permission.
-Antivirus software is often able to intercept this malware before it causes damage, warning you about the true intents of the program
-Microsoft actually has pretty good antivirus software available for free called Microsoft Security Essentials. Despite what most antivirus software makers will tell you, MSE is strong enough to detect most malware threats.
-You can download Microsoft Security Essentials for free from here: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/security-essentials-download (although it’s only available for Windows 7 and Windows 8)
5) Update Your OS, Browser, and Any Other Software On Your Computer
An updated computer is a well-defended computer. In many cases, software updates aren’t designed to improve your user experience: they’re designed to patch up holes and fix potential exploit problems.
That’s why it’s important you keep your browser, operating system, and other software updated at all times.
-Run Windows Update to see if you’re missing any major Windows updates. This will update your version of Windows, upgrade any Windows-based software, and even serve up various “optional” but recommended updates which you may or may not want to install.
-After running Windows Update, check to make sure you’re running the latest version of your browser. If you’re using Chrome, you can learn how to upgrade your browser by reading this tutorial. However, Chrome and most other modern browsers will update themselves automatically, or at least warn you when updates are available.
-If you want to be extra careful, perform a software update check once per month. Check your video card drivers, motherboard chipset drivers, and all software drivers you can think of.
6) Learn How To Spot Suspicious Websites And Emails
If you can become good at spotting suspicious websites and emails, then you’re already well on your way to having a safer PC.
-Only download software from trusted sources online
-Be extra cautious when downloading certain high-risk files, including those with file extensions like .rar or .exe
-If you’re entering any type of sensitive information online, like your credit card information, you need to be on an HTTPS website. Make sure the website has HTTPS in front of its URL and, even better, a green security certificate at the front of the browser bar.
-Having HTTPS doesn’t necessarily mean a site is safe to use and can be trusted with your information. That green certificate, however, does mean that the site you’re currently using is trustworthy
7) Use A Pop-Up Blocker Or Ad Blocker
Even trustworthy sites like YouTube may serve up unsavory advertisements. These ads say things like “ERROR DETECTED! SCAN YOUR COMPUTER NOW!” or “Lose Weight Without Diet or Exercise.”
Less trustworthy sites will bombard you with advertisements or fill your screen with warning messages that are difficult to click away from. They might say things like “DON’T CLICK AWAY! We have one more secret promotion to tell you!”
All of these advertisements are bad news. Fortunately, you can avoid most of these problems by using a simple ad blocker. Ad blockers come in the form of browser extensions and will block many different types of online ads.
Many major companies don’t want you to use ad blockers because they generate revenue from advertisements. However, they’re always a good idea – I mean, who wants to look at ads online anyway?
8) Enable two-step verification
This security step pertains to almost all online accounts. Microsoft, Google, and many other companies now offer two step verification as one of the best account security features.
Here’s how two step verification works: you add a phone number to your account. Whenever you login from an unfamiliar location or try to certify a new device or computer, you will receive a text message containing a time-based PIN code.
You enter that code along with your email and password for your account. This two-step process ensures that someone can’t just steal your email and password to gain access to your account: they also need to have your mobile device.
Someone might guess your password or steal it some other way. But what are the chances they’ll also have your phone?
-Learn how to setup 2 step verification on your Google account here
-Learn how to setup 2 step verification on your Microsoft account here
By following all of the above tips, you can vastly improve the security of your account.