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Hotmail bans common passwords, introduces hacking alert system

Microsoft has introduced new measures to up the security for users of its Hotmail (Live) email service.

Two new measures have been introduced, both of which are extremely useful. The first is a ban on common passwords; Hotmail won’t let you use a common password for your account, try it and you’ll be told the password is too common and to try something different. While this might seem annoying if you’re struggling to set up a password, it stops people having easy to guess passwords like “password123”.

If you’re a Hotmail or Windows Live user then I’ve no doubt that you’ve received strange spam email from your contacts – usually a virus or malware that somebody has clicked from another email. Until now the only way you’d find out if you’ve been the victim of this sort of thing is if one of your friends or family told you. Microsoft have introduced a new option within the ‘mark as’ menu in Hotmail and Live email called ‘My friend’s been hacked!” to combat viruses and spam and to help users regain control of their account as soon as possible.

If you happen to get spam or a virus email from one of your personal contacts, you can simply click this option and an automated message will be sent to Microsoft. The email account in question will then be put through Microsoft’s compromise detection engine to determine if it has indeed been used for illegitimate spam purposes. If the answer is yes, the account will be blocked to spammers and put through a recovery process to ensure the owner of the account regains full control.

“We’ve had this feature turned on for only a few weeks, and we’ve already identified thousands of customers who have had their accounts hacked and helped those customers reclaim their accounts” explains Microsoft’s Dick Craddock.

The ban on common passwords including ‘password’, ‘123456’, ‘ilovecats’ and ‘gogiants’ will begin in the next few weeks.

Big fan of Microsoft’s Hotmail and Live email services? Let us know what you think of the new changes on our Official Twitter and Facebook Pages.