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Appeared on: Friday, July 15, 2011
Hotmail Introduces Hacking Alert Feature

Microsoft on Thursday introduced a hacking alert system to its Windows Live Hotmail email service alongside banning common passwords.

Microsoft said that many accounts have weak passwords that make them easy targets for hijackers. Second, when someone?s account gets hijacked, their friends often find out before they do, because the hijacker uses their account to send spam or phishing email to all their contacts.

These two observations led Microsoft to develop a couple of new features that help protect users' accounts. The first lets a user report a friend's account as compromised and the second prevents he/she from using common passwords that make his/her account easy to hack.

he new security feature adds a "My friend's been hacked!" option in the "mark as" menu in Hotmail and also enables users to report hacked accounts via the junk mail filing screen.

Then an alert will be sent to Microsoft, which will "make sure the account can no longer be used by spammers and activates an account recovery process to allow the owner to take back control the accounts."

Users can report any email account as compromised and Hotmail will provide the information to other email providers like Yahoo! and Gmail, Microsoft said in a blog post.

Microsoft also said Hotmail will roll out a feature to prevent users from choosing commonly used and weak passwords, such as "123456" or "password". Users who currently use a weak password will be asked to change to a stronger one in the future. Of course, having a strong password is just one step to protecting an account. Users should also provide "proofs," including an alternate email address, a question and secret answer, and, even a mobile number where Microsoft can reach them via text message.


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