Hackers reportedly abused Microsoft's customer support to read Hotmail, Outlook.com email

It's not a bad idea to change your email password anyway.

Hackers reportedly compromised a Microsoft customer support account, exposing its credentials, and by extension customer email on Microsoft web-based email services like Hotmail, Outlook.com, and MSN.

TechCrunch reported over the weekend that Microsoft is sending emails to affected users, warning them of the issue. Presumably, those users who have not been contacted are unaffected.  (Microsoft hasn't said how many accounts were affected, nor did the company identify the specific services affected.)

At the time, Microsoft believed the attackers would only be able to read header information, such as the subject line or the address from which the email was sent. On Monday, however, Motherboard reported that email content was accessible as well. Microsoft then confirmed to Motherboard that a small number of users—six percent, according to Motherboard—had received email notifications stating that their email content had been impacted.

Microsoft representatives hadn’t responded to a request for comment by press time.

According to the original email sent to users, Microsoft said that the login information of individual users was not at risk; however, the company warned that attackers could send phishing emails or other attempts to either trick or pry personal information away from users. Microsoft recommended that users change their passwords as a precaution.

Unfortunately, if a user was one of the small number of users whose emails were directly accessed, that means that any personal information communicated during the January 1 - March 28 timeframe is potentially compromised.

“Please be assured that Microsoft takes data protection very seriously and has engaged its internal security and privacy teams in the investigation and resolution of this issue, as well as additional hardening of systems and processes to prevent such recurrence,” Microsoft’s original email stated, as reported by a user on Reddit

What this means to you: If you use one of Microsoft’s affected services, consider changing your password anyway—the scope of the breach may widen. Also, dig down into your spam folder. While it’s unlikely that an email of this importance was buried, it’s possible, and you’ll want to know about it. 

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags microsoft outlook

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Mark Hachman

Mark Hachman

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?