How to delete or protect your Yahoo account

It's time to seriously consider deleting your Yahoo account. Can't? OK, here's what you can do to protect it.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. It's time to kiss your Yahoo account goodbye before Yahoo reveals all your data again.

Yahoo

One billion Yahoo user records revealed! It's time to bid Yahoo adieu.

file photo

Yahoo blew it again. First, it disclosed that in late 2014 500 million Yahoo accounts had been hacked open. That was the biggest hack ever. Except, it wasn't. It turns out that in August 2013 hackers had cracked 1 billion (that's billion with a "b") Yahoo accounts.

In other words, if you had a Yahoo account in 2013, hackers stole names, email addresses, telephone numbers, hashed passwords (using the mindlessly simple-to-crack MD5 algorithm), dates of birth, and in some cases, encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers.

Enough.

Yahoo has shown itself completely unable to protect its customers' data. The company claims that your credit card and bank account data wasn't stolen. But why should we believe it? It took the company years to realize that crooks had stolen every last user's data.

So, what can you do?

How to delete your Yahoo account.

Let's start by downloading your Yahoo mail to your PC. Set up a local mail client to use Post Office Protocol (POP). Yahoo Mail uses the following POP settings:

Incoming Mail (POP) Server

  • Server - pop.mail.yahoo.com
  • Port - 995
  • Requires SSL - Yes

Outgoing Mail (SMTP) Server

  • Server - smtp.mail.yahoo.com
  • Port - 465 or 587
  • Requires SSL - Yes
  • Requires TLS - Yes (if available)
  • Requires authentication - Yes

Your login info

  • Email address - Your full email address (name@yahoo.com.)
  • Password - Your account's password.
  • Requires authentication - Yes

E-mail programs that support POP include Outlook, Outlook Express, Windows Live Mail, OS X Mail, and Thunderbird.

You can also export your Yahoo email to Gmail without too much trouble. To do this go to Gmail. Once there, click the gear-icon in the upper-right corner, and then click Settings. Next, click Accounts and Import and follow up by clicking on Import mail and contacts. From there, enter your Yahoo email address and import your Yahoo data to Gmail. This will import both your contacts, your old mail, and new mail for 30 days.

If you use another email service you're out of luck. Only Google offers a simple way to import Yahoo mail.

You'll also want to grab your Yahoo contacts. To export them, take the following steps:

  1. In Yahoo Mail, click the Contacts icon.
  2. Click Actions and select Export.
  3. Select a format to export. Your choices are Microsoft Outlook, Netscape/Thunderbird, Yahoo CSV, or two vCard variants
  4. Click Export now.

If you use Yahoo Calendar, you can export its data to an iCal (ICS) file with the following steps.

  1. Go to Yahoo Mail and click the Calendar tab.
  2. If you don't see your calendar, click My Calendars in the left-panel menu to show them.
  3. Click the more options arrow next to the calendar you want to export.
  4. Click Export.
  5. Save the ICS file to your computer.

If you have photos in Flikr, it's time to export them as well. To do that, go to the Camera Roll view and select each group of photos you want to download. After that, click the Download button at the page's bottom. Then click Download zip in the pop-up window.

All done? Ready to delete? Now:

  1. Go to Yahoo's Terminating your Yahoo account page. If you use a phone number to login, use the alternative account termination page.
  2. Read the information about deleting your account to be sure you want to proceed. This is a one-way trip. If you delete your account, it's gone for good.
  3. Enter your password.
  4. Enter the recaptcha code.
  5. Click the button labeled Terminate this Account.

Your account is not going to disappear immediately. Yahoo takes approximately 90 days to process your departure. This is to keep enemies or hackers from deleting your account out from underneath you.

Since your account is going to stick around for almost three months, you'll want to go ahead and protect your account as well.

Protecting your Yahoo account

First, if you get an email saying your Yahoo account may have been hacked and to click this link to re-secure your account, it's bogus. Yahoo's official, "you're screwed" emails have the subject line: "Important Security Information for Yahoo Users" and will look like these examples from Yahoo. Anything else is just a phishing scam.

First, you must change your Yahoo account password on Yahoo services such as Yahoo Mail or Flickr. To do this, go to your Yahoo account page. Once there, go to Account Info and click on Account security. Then, on that page, choose Change password. While you're at it, you should turn on two-step verification.

Make sure you pick a good password. For example, I like random nonsense phrases passwords. Say, "YahooSecurityIsStillAWFUL!!" Most password crackers aren't going to get it, and you'll be less likely to forget it.

If you, as many people do, use the same password for multiple accounts, stop that. You're just asking to be hacked. If someone breaks into any of your accounts, lazy hackers can try your most common user name or email with that known password on multiple systems. To be safe, you must use a unique password for every site.

Too much work? Then use a password manager such as LastPass, Google Smart Lock, 1Password, or RoboForm. They'll make your online life much more secure and easier.

Yahoo has another login authentication option called the Yahoo Account Key. With this, instead of entering passwords, every time you login to your Yahoo account, you'll get a notification on your Android or Apple device. Personally, I find this annoying, but it might work for you.

Finally. Yahoo's security questions were also cracked... again. If you still have them, after changing your password, click "Disable security questions" on the Account Security page. Then, disable all of them.

At this point, I urge you to consider disabling Yahoo once and for all. I've used Yahoo since it started in 1994 under the name, "Jerry and David's Guide to the World Wide Web," but I've had it. Yahoo is just too insecure for me. Goodbye Yahoo.

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