Hotmail adds new anti-hijack feature

Compromised accounts can be reported, coverage also given to Gmail and Yahoo
Kerry Butters

July 19, 2011

Hotmail has added a new feature that gives users the option to report an account has been compromised, so that they can then work on returning accounts to their rightful owners.

The new measure, released by Microsoft a few weeks ago, initially only worked with Hotmail accounts but now works with Gmail and Yahoo as well.

Microsoft say that they “did the work to enable other email providers like Yahoo and Gmail to receive these compromise reports from Hotmail including those submitted by you, and those providers will now be able to use the reports in their own systems to recover hacked accounts.”

“So now, in Hotmail, you can report any email account as compromised, and Hotmail will provide the compromise information to both Yahoo and Gmail.”

Users can report a problem with a click of a new ‘Mark As’ button which appears on the menu as “My friend’s been hacked!” The ‘Send to Junk Folder’ also now features a tick box using the same phrase.

The account in question is then scanned by Hotmail’s compromise detection engine and if found to be suspicious, looked into further. Once it has been confirmed the account has been taken over, Microsoft states that the following happens:

“The account can no longer be used by the spammer. When your friend attempts to access their account, they’re put through an account recovery flow that helps them take back control of the account.”

The move comes in a bid to combat the ever growing problem of hijacked accounts being used spam everyone in the address book.

Hotmail reports that the feature has already been a huge success as thousands of compromised accounts have been found and returned to their rightful owners, usually within a day of the report being sent to Microsoft.

In addition to the new feature, Microsoft says it will also be introducing measures to prevent people from using weak passwords to access their mail.

Microsoft noted: “This new feature will be rolling out soon, and will prevent you from choosing a very common password when you sign up for an account or when you change your 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.”


Comments in chronological order (1 comment)

  1. Jon Lee says:

    When will Microsoft tackle the proble of the amount of spam mail that comes from accounts?

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