Earlier this week Microsoft unveiled some new security related features to the web based version of Hotmail to help protect it from being hijacked by someone.

Not too long ago, account hijacking was an issue limited mostly to financial service websites. Now the practice has grown to threaten other web services like email, disrupting millions of accounts every year. When an email account is compromised by hijackers, it violates the privacy of the account owner, can harm those in their address book, and adds additional costs to the services fighting the abuse. This type of identity theft costs users and services billions of dollars every year.

The features include (via WMExperts):

  • Hotmail detects if legitimate user accounts are compromised and treats them differently than accounts that spammers setup themselves to send spam, working with the user to help them recover their account.
  • New account proofs that identify which personal computers and Windows Phones are trusted to access your Hotmail accounts.
  • More secure proofs. Previously (and still on other services), users could add/remove proofs with just their password. Now, the ability to validate an existing proof is required to change them.
  • Closing back-doors the hijacker may try to leave open. When a compromised account is detected, it is locked to prevent further abuse, and vacation auto-reply messages and linked accounts are suspended.

So if you have not done so already you need to go to Microsoft and indicate what proof method you want to use in case your account ever gets hijacked.  This proof process will make the recovery of your account very easy in comparison to the methods before.  The two new proof methods are a trusted PC or a cell phone number.