Sometimes, you might be suspecting that your email account has been hacked or compromised and that somebody else is accessing that account. The best way to confirm this is to check the last login activity or the last account activity for your email account. This will tell you when did you (or anyone else) access your email account on the last occasion. The question, however, is whether the popular email services provide the last login information? In this article, I’m covering three most popular email services, namely, Yahoo Mail, Gmail and Hotmail, to check whether last login information is provided by them.
I found that Yahoo Mail and Hotmail (now Windows Live) does not tell you about the last login information to your email account. It is only the Gmail (and Yahoo Mail; see Update) that informs you automatically about your last account activity or the last login activity. In fact, I found that Gmail provides this information not only for your last login activity, but also for a total of last 10 occasions on which you had logged in to your Gmail account. [Update: I thank Steven A. Ealy for pointing out in a comment to this article that Yahoo Mail also provides the Last Login information. See, below, for more details as to how to check Last Login information in Yahoo Mail.]
Last login activity in Gmail:
(1) To check the last login activity in your Gmail account, login to your Gmail account and on bottom-right corner of the screen, you’ll notice “Last account activity” information, with a Details link. It also tells when the Gmail account was last accessed. See the following picture:
(2) Click the Details link. A new window will appear on the screen similar to the one shown below:
(3) You may notice that Gmail has provided details for last 10 logins. It informs whether the access to your Gmail account was through browser, mobile or POP3 (such as through Outlook Express), etc., on each occasion. It also gives information about the IP address and location for accessing the Gmail on last 10 occasions, as well as the date & time for such access. Gmail also informs you whether your Gmail account is presently open in any other location. This can be quite handy if your account is hacked.
Thus, Gmail provides you a lot of information about your last login activities on 10 previous logins. You can easily use this information to check whether somebody else is accessing your Gmail account.
[Also see: How to delete last login activity in Gmail?]
Last login activity in Yahoo Mail:
(1) To check the last login activity in your Yahoo Mail account, visit http://edit.yahoo.com/config/eval_profile and enter your Yahoo Mail ID and password to login and view your Account Information page on Yahoo.
(2) Once on the Account Information page, scroll down a little to the Sign-in and Security section, and click “View your recent sign-in activity” link in that section (see, following snapshot):
(3) This will show, on the next screen, your Recent Login Activity in Yahoo Mail on last 10 occasions. You’ll get information about date(s) and time(s) of accessing the Yahoo Mail, Access Type (whether accessed from browser or mobile device, etc.), IP Address of accessing the Yahoo Mail (or Location of accessing it). See the following picture:
Thus, like Gmail, you can get information about your last 10 login activities in Yahoo Mail also.
Last login activity in Hotmail (Windows Live):
As I have already mentioned above, Yahoo Mail and Hotmail does not provide any such information, whatsoever, about your last login activity for accessing these email accounts. Of course, like any other website, Hotmail may also be collecting information about the IP address, date & time of access, browser details, etc., of visitors to their site; but this information is not provided to you at the time of your next login, as the Gmail and Yahoo Mail provide. May be in the case of a serious fraud on your Hotmail account by way of hacking, you may file a complaint with police who may then request this email service provider (whether with or without court’s orders) to provide last login activity information to get details of the hackers. But, it is not easily available to you in the normal cases. So, this important tool is not available to you for Hotmail at this point of time.
Just to give you an example, last month (October, 2011), suddenly I started getting 2-3 emails every day from one contact from his hotmail account. This was unusual since normally he would send me an email after a gap of a month or so. Moreover, these emails contained suspicious links (though looking innocuous) and usually each email had different links. Luckily I never clicked any of those links since from the very fist such mail I was suspecting that it was a spam mail and that perhaps my friend’s email account had been hacked (because he was not used to sending such emails in the past). I informed that friend about these emails. Initially, he felt offended that I was trying to complain about his email address. But, after 2-3 days when I kept getting similar mails from his email account and when I again requested him to check whether his email account had been hacked, he got it checked and it was found that his other contacts were also getting similar spam mails from him without his knowledge. However, since Hotmail does not provide last login information, he could not get it confirmed as to who had hacked his account. The police won’t interfere in this matter since no harm had been done by this hacking. So, ultimately he could get rid of the said hacking by changing the password and selecting a new strong password (since the hacker had not changed his password) to his email account and also by changing the secondary email address. Of course, he also got his computer cleaned by anti-virus software.