Microsoft latest firm to notify users of state-sponsored hacks

microsoft latest firm to notify users of state sponsored hacks
Falling in line with other tech firms, Microsoft says it’ll also start warning users of its Web-based email service of any suspected state-sponsored hacks on their accounts.

The company has been issuing alerts about potential security breaches for the last two years, though the warnings have never offered any detailed information as to who might be behind the attacks. That’s now changing.

“As the threat landscape has evolved, our approach has too, and we’ll now go beyond notification and guidance to specify if we reasonably believe the attacker is ‘state-sponsored’,” Microsoft said in a statement to Reuters outlining its new alert procedure.

The computer giant said the alerts will go to users of Outlook.com, the Web-based email service that emerged from Microsoft’s old Hotmail interface.

The move by Microsoft follows similar action taken in recent months by the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and most recently Yahoo.

Google, meanwhile, has been issuing such warnings to Gmail users for the last three years. Asked how it knows whether a hack is the work of a government-backed agent or some guy in his pajamas working out of his bedroom (couldn’t they be the same person?), a spokesperson for the Mountain View company said “detailed analysis and victim reports” often pointed to the perpetrators, adding that he couldn’t give more specific information on its procedures “without giving away information that would be helpful” to the hackers.

Several former Microsoft employees told Reuters that known attacks carried out on Hotmail users several years ago “targeted diplomats, media workers, human rights lawyers, and others in sensitive positions inside China,” indicating the kind of people likely to be of interest to state-sponsored actors and who could therefore reasonably expect to receive one of these specialized alerts somewhere down the road.

Such warnings usually come with a recommended plan of action, such as using a more sophisticated password, enabling two-step verification if it hasn’t already been set up, and using up-to-date anti-virus software.

The move by Microsoft and others to warn of suspected state-sponsored hacks follows recent discussions between President Obama and Chinese president Xi Jinping on the issue of espionage in cyberspace, with Obama cautiously optimistic that an effective solution can eventually be found.


Microsoft’s Windows 10 Mail client goes freemium with the introduction of ads

Microsoft Windows Insiders are finding a nasty surprise inside the Mail app on the latest Windows 10 preview build in the form of banner ads. These ads will appear in the Mail app regardless of the webmail service you use.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'The Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘The Good Place’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.

Latest SMS breach could allow hackers access to your online accounts

A new security breach that exposed more than 26 million text messages could be a huge nightmare for users relying on two-factor authentication. Many of the SMS on the database contained security codes and account reset links.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

Google honors Veterans Day by highlighting military service stories

For Veterans Day, Google is honoring the heroes that served the country with a new Google Doodle that highlights the stories of five veterans from the five different branches of the military.
Emerging Tech

Alibaba’s Singles’ Day sale smashes online shopping records

The annual online shopping frenzy that is Singles' Day this year raked in $30.8 billion, up from $25 billion last time around. The Alibaba-organized event generates more in sales than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.

Apple to boost its Amazon presence with listings for iPhones, iPads, and more

Apple is about to start offering more of its kit on Amazon. The tech giant currently only has very limited listings on the shopping site, but the deal will see the arrival of the latest iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, and more.

If you've lost a software key, these handy tools can find it for you

Missing product keys getting you down? We've chosen some of the best software license and product key finders in existence, so you can locate and document your precious keys on your Windows or MacOS machine.

Will Chrome remain our favorite web browser with the arrival of newest version?

Choosing a web browser for surfing the web can be tough with all the great options available. Here we pit the latest versions of Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Edge, and Vivaldi against one another to find the best browsers for most users.

Zoom in on famous works through the Art Institute of Chicago’s new website

Art lovers, listen up. The Art Institute of Chicago has given its website a serious makeover with new features that let you get up close and personal with more than 50,000 artworks by famous (and not so famous) artists.

Over a million veterans now eligible for Comcast’s Internet Essentials program

Comcast's low-cost Internet Essentials program, which provides internet access for just $10 per month, has expanded to include U.S. veterans. One million veterans now qualify for the service.

Google’s Squoosh will get an image web-ready with in-browser compression

Google's latest web app development is an image editing and compression tool, Squoosh. In just a few clicks, it can take a huge image and make it much lighter and web-friendly, all in your browser.

Want to save a webpage as a PDF? Just follow these steps

Need to quickly save and share a webpage? The best way is to learn how to save a webpage as a PDF file, as they're fully featured and can handle images and text with ease. Here's how.
Social Media

‘Superwoman’ YouTuber Lilly Singh taking a break for her mental health

Claiming to be "mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted," popular YouTuber Lilly Singh has told her millions of fans she's taking a break from making videos in order to recuperate.