If you are using your AOL Mail account for anything private, personal or sensitive, then it is very important to take steps to keep it secure. Unfortunately, there are a lot of unsavory individuals out there who would love to break into your email account for nefarious purposes. The good news is, there are a number of things you can do to prevent that from happening.
In this post, we’ll go over some of the most powerful security tips for your AOL Mail account. First, we’ll talk about how to make sure your password is actually keeping your account safe, including how to change your AOL password in case you think you have been hacked. We’ll also show you how to set up two-step verification in AOL, view your account activity to see if there have been any suspicious logins, and be smart about how you use your computer to make you less prone to attack.
AOL Mail password tips
The first step to securing your AOL email is simply choosing a strong password. It should be something easy for you to remember (so that you don’t have to write it down—not very secure) but hard for other people to guess. You also need to make it hard for hacking software to crack, and the way to foil these programs is to use long, complex passwords with a variety of character types. A combination of lowercase, uppercase, numbers and special characters can mean the difference between a password hacking program cracking it in a few minutes and not being able to figure it out after a hundred years!
It is also an internet “best practice” to change your password periodically just in case someone manages to get their hands on it. And, obviously, if you suspect that your AOL Mail has been hacked, you need to log in and change to a new password immediately.
Below is a quick tutorial on how to change your password in AOL Mail. We’ll assume you already know how to sign in to your account and are looking at your inbox.
First, go to the upper right-hand corner of the screen. Under your AOL username, there is a link called “Options” with a dropdown menu. Click to open the menu, and choose the first item in the list, “Account Info”.
This will take you to your AOL account settings page. At the top, you will see your basic profile information: name, email, gender, date of birth, and zip code. Below that is the “Account Security” section.
The first line in the Account Security section is “Password”. It won’t show what your password is (that would be a great way to put your account at the mercy of anyone looking over your shoulder), just the date it was last changed. To the right is a link to “Change Password…”
When you click on the Change Password option, you just have to follow the on-screen directions. First, you will have to enter your current password and possibly answer your security question. This is to protect your AOL Mail account from random people sneaking in and changing your password without your knowledge. Finally, when prompted, type in your new (strong!) AOL password.
Setting up two-step verification in AOL
If you are like most people, you practically always have your mobile phone within arm’s reach. For people who wouldn’t dream of leaving the house without their smartphone, two-step verification (also called two-factor authentication) is a fantastic way to add an extra layer of security to your AOL account.
Two-step verification makes it much harder for unauthorized people to get into your email account because they not only have to enter the correct password, they also have to enter a one-time code that is sent via text message to your phone number. So, unless that person can figure out your password AND has unrestricted access to your phone, they won’t be able to hack into your AOL account.
To set up two-step verification in AOL, go back into your Account Settings just like we did in the section above. Right under the link to change your password, there is a link to “Set up” 2-step verification.
Just like with changing your password, it’s important to keep random people from setting up two-step verification on your AOL Mail account behind your back. For that reason, you will probably have to reenter your password and answer your security question before you can set up this security feature.
Next, you need to enter your mobile phone number along with the appropriate country code. AOL will send a text message to that number for verification, or they can call you if you prefer. Simply type in the phone number and click either “Text” or “Call”, depending on how you want to receive the verification.
After you get the text message or phone call, just follow the on-screen instructions to finish the setup process.
Updating your account recovery information
While you are in your account settings, it’s a good idea to check your account recovery information and make sure it is current. You want to have a backup email address and a mobile phone number here—these will be used to verify your identity if you ever forget your password or get locked out of your AOL Mail somehow.
The third item in “Account Recovery Information” is your security question. This should be something that only you know the answer to, but also something that you are sure you won’t forget, because you will need to answer this question to prove that you are you whenever you go to make changes to your account.
Suspicious activity on your AOL account
If you think something fishy might be going on with your AOL Mail, you can log in and view account activity to see if anything looks suspicious.
Getting to this point is a bit confusing, because it is not in your “Account Settings” with the other security tools. Rather, it is in “My Account”, which is outside of AOL Mail because it applies to all AOL services. You can find it here: https://myservices.aol.com/home
In the middle “Account Options” column, you can click to “View My Account Activity” (the last item in the list of options).
If you, like me, have no activity for any of the things they keep track of here, you’ll see something like the image below. Otherwise, there will be a list of changes that have been made to your AOL account.
Securing your account and your computer
You can go a long way towards keeping your AOL account secure by being smart about the way you use your personal computer and other computers.
In this digital age, it is essential to have a good antivirus program on your computer. Scan your PC regularly to prevent viruses and malware from compromising the security of your computer and all the accounts you access from it.
When using computers other than your personal one, be careful to log out of any account you sign into on that PC. Sometimes, you will be logged out automatically when you close the browser window, but the safest bet is to sign out of your AOL Mail account before stepping away from that computer. Otherwise, the next person to use it might be able to access your private information.