If you’re like me (and nearly everyone I know), you do a lot of shopping on Amazon. Buying gifts? Amazon. Household items? Amazon. Electronics? Amazon. But because it’s so encompassing, it’s also something you’re going to want to take extra care to secure.
Odds are you have at least one credit card, your home address, and phone number stored on your Amazon account, which could be very bad should that account fall into the wrong hands. Fortunately, there are a few things you can—and should!—do in order to make sure your Amazon data is as safe as it can be.
Your first line of defense with any online account is always going to be your password, so choosing a strong one is paramount in securing your account. Don’t use your cat’s name, your child’s birthday, or anything else that can easily be guessed—if it’s something that other people readily know about you, it’s a terrible password.
At the same time, most passwords that are secure are also very hard to remember. My answer to that is twofold: use a password generator and manager. I personally use LastPass, but the majority of the options out there will not only store your passwords (so you only have to remember one), but also offer a password generator. This is going to be a random jumble of letters and numbers, making it nearly impossible to guess or crack. And since the password is then stored in the password manager, you don’t have to remember it—I probably haven’t even seen half of my passwords!
If you’re using a weak password, now’s the time to change it. From the Amazon home page in your browser, hover over the “Accounts & Lists” box in the upper right. In the drop down menu, select “Your Account.”
In the “Settings” section (the third section from the top), select “Login & Security Settings.” You’ll be asked to input your current password here.
From here, just click the “Edit” button in the “Password” field. Get your change on!
A strong password is not enough, however. If any service you use offers two-step verification (also called “2-factor authentication”, or “2FA” for short), you should absolutely use it. Amazon is no exception to this rule.
So, what is two-step verification? Simply put, it’s an additional layer of security that keeps people out of your account. Not only will you need to enter your password to log in, but you’ll need to enter a code that’s sent to your phone. That way, if someone ends up getting your password, they won’t be able to log in to your account—unless they also somehow have your phone. You might receive that code as a text message, or through an authentication app on your phone like Google Authenticator or Authy. You can read more about two-factor authentication, and why it’s so important, here.
To enable two-step verification, jump back into Your Account Settings again (Menu > Your Account > Login & Security Settings), then click the “Edit” button next to “Advanced Security Settings.”
Essentially, the entire “Advanced” section is just setting up two-step verification. Click the “Get Started” button to, um, get started.
The process is largely automated, so just follow the prompts to get everything rolling. You’ll start by entering your phone number and receive the first code.
Once you’ve verified the first code, you’ll need to set a backup method. This can be a text or voice call on a different phone, or an authenticator app. I recommend the latter—just install one of the authenticator apps mentioned earlier and follow the instructions.
Lastly, read the instructions on what to do on devices that won’t work with two-step verification. It’s important!
Once you’re all finished, you can tick the box to skip asking for codes on this device—I only recommend doing so if it’s a desktop, which is much less likely to get stolen than something like a laptop or tablet.
Boom, you’re done. If you haven’t enabled this feature on your other accounts—like your email, bank, and other sites—you really should.
With Amazon, this is sort of a gray area: it’s not exactly a security issue, but 1-Click Ordering can be a problem if you have the Amazon app on your phone or tablet, and it gets lost or stolen. If you use it often, then you can leave it on, but I don’t generally recommend it.
To disable 1-Click Ordering on the mobile app, slide the menu open and choose “Your Account.”
From here, tap on “1-Click Settings.” There’s a simple toggle at the top that will enable/disable it. That’s literally it.
As prolific as Amazon is, there’s no excuse for not properly securing your account. All it takes is one mistake for your account to be compromised, so make sure you’re taking the proper steps to add that additional security. You don’t want to end up in a situation where you regret not doing so!
Cameron Summerson is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, metalhead, and cyclist. When he’s not pounding keys on the ‘net, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, chugging away on the 6-string, spinning on the streets, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.