Have you ever wondered how many third-party accounts are linked to your primary email address? This question is moot if you've already shared your email with numerous websites and apps. Mainly our first thought is: "Who hasn't done it and why not?" The convenience of not having to type and remember your username or password outweighs any other privacy concerns.
When using single sign-on (SSO), security is expected to be built in. Therefore, as soon as we see a “Login with Google” or “Login with Facebook / Twitter” button, we pass our email without thinking twice. Social media companies, email marketing companies, and app providers further circulate these email addresses across the web.
However, you can minimize your email exposure by gaining visibility of the accounts linked to your email address. The following steps show you how to regain control of your email by giving access only to trusted third parties.
From the web version of the email
Popular email providers like Gmail, Outlook and Yahoo have built-in access controls to view third-party accounts, add and revoke access where not needed. To gain visibility, access your respective emails on a web browser.
Once logged in, Google has a where you get central visibility of all third-party sites and apps that have permission to use your Google account. You may not remember providing access to these services, but this page is where you can easily disconnect them.
Google has another page behind "My Account" called "." This is where you can view all external apps with access to your Google SSO credentials.
The access permissions are not universal but are granular based on the service request. For example, in the screenshot below, Microsoft apps and services are allowed access to Gmail, but Zoom only has access to Google Calendar.
You can easily remove access to unimportant apps from this menu. Very few reputable apps should be allowed access to read, compose, send, and permanently delete Gmail emails. In the example below, access to Microsoft services was provided because I use Gmail in Outlook.
If you are using Outlook or Hotmail, log in to a web browser first, then go to “Settings -> View all Outlook settings -> Synchronize email”. That's where you can un-sync any other account from Outlook.
To remove any active subscriptions from Outlook, go to the “Subscriptions” menu.
Yahoo also has an easy way to remove access from third-party apps. For this, go to the “Settings” icon followed by “More Settings -> Mailboxes”. Click "Add Mailbox" to add additional new accounts. You can also remove accounts here.
Yahoo offers a choice of different email providers, such as Google, Outlook, Office365 and AOL. Add one to proceed.
From the mail search box
Most email providers have a search box where you can use predefined search criteria to extract any accounts and subscriptions linked to your email. This process is somewhat manual but allows for broader identification of third-party apps linked to your email.
To do this, first access the respective emails on a web browser.
Gmail has a prominent advanced search menu. Here you can search for any third-party accounts connected to Gmail in the "subject" field. You can enter search terms such as "welcome", "activated", "subscription" or "renewal". Change the date range as needed.
Once you receive your search results, you'll get a top-down list of all the services linked to your Gmail account. To revoke access to any of them, click the unsubscribe button or filter and block them from the gear icon in the top right.
Outlook.com has a similar advanced search menu where you can adjust the date range and insert the desired keyword into the subject. Unsubscribing and revoking access for any business is similar to Gmail.
Yahoo Mail also has an advanced search box with date range and subject field. The modus operandi for identifying linked accounts and clearing their privileges is very similar to the one above.
From third party services
If you've used Gmail, Outlook, or any other email to sign up for a social media account, this email has likely circulated a lot more than you think. You must individually revoke access for the affected apps.
Once logged into Facebook on the web, go to "Settings and Privacy" followed by "Settings". In the left side menu on the side, you can see an “Apps & Websites” option. Open it to view apps using your Facebook account (and in turn your email, possibly).
As shown here, Facebook shared the registered Gmail account with another app called Pinterest.
Twitter also has a "Settings" area where you get all the details on the security of your account. Go to “Apps and sessions” to proceed.
Once logged in successfully, click on "connected apps".
Below you can see a list of apps linked to Twitter. Some, but not all, have access to your email address.
Once you enter the apps, you realize which ones have access to your Twitter (and email) credentials. Revoke access if necessary.
LinkedIn has a feature in its "Settings" called "Partners and Services", where you can view third party providers with access to LinkedIn and possibly your email. The following screenshot shows Microsoft and Twitter.
On Instagram, go to "Settings" followed by "Apps and websites". If you have added an email as an Instagram user, you can revoke access now.