In the latest of a seemingly endless string of high-profile hacks, Microsoft admitted over the weekend that the Outlook email security breach was worse than what the company initially revealed. Over the weekend a number of Microsoft’s email platform users had their accounts compromised; including MSN, Hotmail, and Outlook.
The software maker started notifying some of their users late on Friday night that a hacker was able to access accounts for months earlier this year. That unauthorized parties may have accessed their email account and that they should reset their password immediately. Microsoft’s notification revealed that hackers could have inspected account email addresses, email subject and folder names, but in separate information, to other afflicted users the company also admitted email contents could have been viewed.
How Did The Outlook Email Breach Happen?
According to Microsoft, hackers compromised the account of a Microsoft support agent, one of the company’s consumer support representatives that manages technical complaints. The hacker had access to email accounts from MSN, Outlook, and Hotmail between January 1st and March 28th. Microsoft told the affected users that it has no indication why the information was viewed or how it may have been used. To protect the remaining email account owners, Microsoft immediately disabled the compromised agent’s credentials and barred the hacker’s access.
The number of people who were affected by the incident was not specified by Microsoft but said that potential hackers could only read full email content for about 6% of affected Outlook users.
Why Protecting Your Email Account Is Necessary And How To Do It!
Email addresses are increasingly the default way we identify ourselves online and are used for anything from personal emails to your bank details or confidential business message.
Nevertheless, most sites and applications let users register accounts with their email addresses instead of creating a separate username. If a hacker gets control of your email account, they can search through your messages and quickly figure out all the other sites and data that are associated with that address. After cyber threats and breaches like this, improving your email account security is just the initial step. Here are some more tips on how you can keep your email secure.
- Choose a strong password: The longer your password the safer your email account; use a mix of letters, numbers, symbols, and punctuation marks.
- Choose a reliable security question: Formulate the toughest question you can find. One that cannot be easily imagined and understood.
- Have a Secure Socket Layer (SSL): Make sure that you use an SSL enabled email client, or use a secure email service that offers OpenPGP encryption.
- Encrypt your email messages: If you’re delivering a confidential message make sure they are accurately encrypted to keep information unreadable by everyone except you and the recipient.
If you’re unsure of how to implement these simple measures or would like to discuss more detailed and practical ways of protecting the email account of your business, organizations such as CGI can help you in identifying and provide alerts for the threats so you can fill the cybersecurity gaps of your business efficiently and effectively. If you feel you might be at heightened risk of cyber attacks, contact us and talk to the cyber experts at CGI, and we’ll share some more advanced tips for your overall digital security.