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Anand Yadav

Microsoft introduces two new Hotmail security features

July 16, 2011
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Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Microsoft is implementing two new security features to keep Hotmail accounts safe. One feature banning commonly used passwords and the other letting you report compromised email accounts called “Hey! My friend’s account was hacked!”

As the Seattle PI reports, Microsoft is banning all common passwords from Hotmail. “Having a common password makes your account vulnerable to brute force ‘dictionary’ attacks, in which a malicious person tries to hijack your account just by guessing passwords (using a short list of very common passwords). Of course, Hotmail has built-in defenses against standard dictionary attacks, but when someone can guess your password in just a few tries, it hardly constitutes ‘brute force’,” Microsoft stated in a blog post.

Users will be required to enter strong passwords when signing up for Hotmail or when changing their password. If you’re already using a common password, you may, at some point in the future, be asked to change it to a stronger password.

The second one has already been released, and allows users to report compromised accounts to Microsoft immediately after receiving a spam or scam email from a contact’s email account.

This can be done in two ways. Either you move the email in question to the Junk folder and you get offered the option of reporting the possible hack, or you mark it with the “My friend’s being hacked!” option.

When you report that your friend’s account has been compromised, Hotmail takes that report and combines it with the other information from the compromise detection engine to determine if the account in question has in fact been hijacked.

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