Microsoft has announced plans to start notifying email users if the government ends up hacking their accounts for the purpose of spying on them. Perhaps Microsoft did not want to be the only tech company left out of the loop since Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and several others have joined in the fight to keep the government’s snooping eyes away from the personal emails of millions of users.
In A Post-Snowden World, How Exactly Will Microsoft Notify Users?
Users of Microsoft’s email service called Outlook, as well as its cloud storage service OneDrive, will gain added security in order to keep the government’s prying eyes from snooping in on millions of users. Microsoft is already informing its users when an unauthorized person tries to access their Outlook or OneDrive accounts, but now they will branch out the notification chart by telling users if the government ends up spying on them. One of the reasons why the company has resorted to such a measure was because some years back, the Chinese government had hacked into more than a thousand Hotmail accounts, which belonged to individuals of Tibetan and Uighur origin.
Scott Charney, Corporate Vice President of Trustworthy Computing at Microsoft, has stated the following:
We already notify users if we believe their accounts have been targeted or compromised by a third party, and we provide guidance on measures users can take to keep their accounts secure. We’re taking this additional step of specifically letting you know if we have evidence that the attacker may be ‘state-sponsored’ because it is likely that the attack could be more sophisticated or more sustained than attacks from cyber criminals and others.
Mr. Charney does not want to keep users at the tip of their toes because he has also said that these notifications do not necessarily mean that Microsoft’s systems have been compromised. It means that the company has sufficient evidence that the accounts are being targeted and users are informed so that they could take additional steps in order to ensure that it does not happen again. Here are some measures that you should adopt in you want to keep your account from being hacked.
- Turn on two-step verification
- Use a strong password and change it often
- Watch for suspicious activity on your account
- Be careful of suspicious emails and websites
- Keep your computer software, including your Web browser, up to date and run an up-to-date anti-virus program
In short, Microsoft has taken such security-centric steps, along with other companies to limit the activities of government agencies from sifting through the private emails of millions of users.