Sat, 24 Jul 2021

SAN FRANCISCO, California Microsoft has decided to warn subscribers of its Outlook.com email service when it suspects that any government is attempting to hack into their accounts.

According to a report by wire service Reuters, the shift in Microsoft policy came after the tech giant was questioned over not informing victims of a Chinese hacking attempt which was discovered in 2011.

The Chinese hackers had allegedly targeted international leaders of China's Tibetan and Uighur minorities.

The attacks had also targeted diplomats, media workers, human rights lawyers, and others in sensitive positions inside China, according to the former employees.

Former Microsoft employees told Reuters that but Microsoft's decision of not informing the victims allowed the hackers to continue their campaign with their activities getting unnoticed.

The news agency citing at least two former employees of Microsoft said that the "company's own experts had concluded several years ago that Chinese authorities had been behind the campaign but the company did not pass on that information to users of its Hotmail service, which is now called Outlook.com".

But, Microsoft in a statement said neither it nor the government in the United States could pinpoint the sources of the hacking attacks and that they didn't come from a single country.

"We weighed several factors in responding to this incident, including the fact that neither Microsoft nor the US government were able to identify the source of the attacks, which did not come from any single country," the company said.

"We also considered the potential impact on any subsequent investigation and ongoing measures we were taking to prevent potential future attacks."

However from now on, the company said, it will begin warning users of its Outlook.com email service it suspects any hacking attempt by a government.

The policy change follows similar moves since October by Internet giants Facebook, Twitter and most recently Yahoo.

Google first began in 2012 informing its users about any hacking attempt by any government. The internet giant says it now alerts tens of thousands of users every few months.

Microsoft has also been informing its users by alerting them about potential security breaches. But it has so far never specified the likely suspect.

"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'," the Microsoft said in the statement to Reuters.

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