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Hotmail intros early warning system

Security for virtualized datacentres

Microsoft is introducing an early warning system for Hotmail users to report suspicions that friend’s email accounts have been hacked.

Individual reports are checked against a compromise detection engine to determine if the account has been hijacked. If something is amiss the account is suspended - rendering it useless for a spammer - while the genuine account holder is asked to go through an account recovery process.

Microsoft has quietly tested the feature for the last few weeks and that it has already shown its worth in detecting thousands of compromised accounts.

The aim is to stamp out the use of compromised accounts to send spam, a popular tactic among rogue pharmacy promoters and other spam-distributing scumbags and fraudsters. Compromised webmail accounts can be deployed in attacks that rely on identifying and resetting log-in credentials of other, potentially more sensitive, accounts.

Microsoft also plans to notify Google and Yahoo! if it comes across problems with particular webmail accounts outside its control.

Not as easy as ABC

In addition, Microsoft is preventing new sign-up to its webmail service from using weak passwords, such as 123456 and the ever popular "password". This will be applied to new accounts only, at least at first, but this is a step in the right direction.

Microsoft's announcement is here.

More commentary on the changes can be found in a blog post by Trend Micro here. ®

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