As today’s world of digital crime and internet fraud gets increasingly rampant, many should be highly aware and familiar with safeguarding their email accounts and login credentials.
Besides storing your private conversations, your email is often a crucial all-access key to all your other online accounts. When you lose or forget your password, typically the account services will require you to retrieve an email to confirm your identity and reset the password. Thus, an email account is worth protecting and should be secured beyond using merely a single password, which leaves the single line of defence vulnerable, weak and prone to attacks and hacking attempts.
Large email providers offer a second and advanced layer of security feature, such as the Microsoft Outlook two-step verification and two-factor authentication, also abbreviated as 2FA, to secure emails and reduce the risk of data breaches. If your email password has been compromised without another layer of authentication to secure it, cyber attackers can break in to gain access to your emails and other accounts.
How does two-step verification and two-factor authentication work?
Two-factor authentication integrates different types of authentication factors such as password or PIN, hardware token and a mobile app. For 2 step verification, it utilizes the same factor twice, which commonly is a password and one-time code sent via text SMS or email.
As you begin the process to enable 2FA in your Outlook email account, you will be prompted to install a Microsoft Authenticator app in your smartphone that works as an identity verification system. Enter the specific email account you wish to connect to, before receiving a verification code to submit and complete the process. Your email account is now secured with 2FA, so the next time you sign in, you can verify your identity with the app.
You could also choose to enter an alternate email address or a phone number to receive a security code and set up the Outlook 2 step verification on your account.
How does it secure your email access?
In addition to a username and password to log in, the additional security step and piece of information only known to the user increases the difficulty for potential intruders to obtain access and steal any personal data or even identity. With this advanced security feature, the 2FA process will not grant access to an account with just a stolen password.
Using the authenticator app or having a one-time password (OTP) randomly generated to your mobile phone or alternate email address benefits greatly in preventing email security breaches as it validates the user’s identity. The OTP, in particular, is only valid for a short period of time and used per login session before expiring. Thus, this enhances the existing login process and secures email from unauthorised access.
If you had lost your phone or are unable to complete the 2FA / two-step verification process, there is also a backup method with a printable recovery code for you to verify your identity and recover your account.
Protect your email account
2FA / two-step verification are just some of the information security practices implemented to maintain the confidentiality of private and sensitive information. Aside from personal emails, any breach of corporate emails could cause adverse repercussions to the company and its clients. By complementing your usual single-password authentication with a second factor, it can effectively secure your email and reduce the risk of stolen passwords, data breaches and unfettered email access which gains control of your account.