Days ago Microsoft learned that up to thirty thousand Windows Live Hotmail customer’s account details were exposed on a third party site on the Internet. Microsoft insists that this was neither an error nor an internal breach. The exposed customer information is believed to be the result of a phishing scheme.
If you are an MSN, hotmail or live.com e-mail customer, you are advised to change your password immediately. If you find that you cannot log in, it actually isn’t a direct result of the phishing scheme. Microsoft is attempting to protect accounts and verify information before opening them. It is a hassle for sure, but really is for your own protection.
Are other e-mails besides MSN being affected?
Neowin.net, a technology blog, is reporting that the phishing attack may have also included gmail, AOL, Comcast and earthlink. It sounds like it is a good time for everyone to create new passwords, regardless of your e-mail carrier.
How can I recognize a phishing scam?
A phishing scheme is an email scam that sends out e-mails and gets you to click on unsafe links or gets you to enter your personal information. You can pick up viruses and malware and you can become a victim of identity theft.
Phishing schemes often mimic institutions such as your bank to gain your trust and build up your curiosity. Tell tale signs include panic tactics like “There is a breach in your account. Please verify your password by entering it here,” or the tempting to believe good news that “you’ve won a prize” or “the lottery if only you’ll enter your account information here so you can claim it.” Phishing e-mails often contain misspellings or grammatical errors.
How can I avoid being the victim of a phishing scheme?
1. Install and regularly update security software and anti-virus software
The Microsoft Phishing Filter is a free part of Internet Explorer 7, Internet Explorer 8, Windows Vista and as an add-on for the Windows Live Search Toolbar.
2. -Change ALL passwords at least every 90 days
3. Don’t open suspicious or unsolicited e-mails
4 Be wary of links, even when you know the sender
Where do I report a phishing scheme?
You can report any suspicious e-mails or phishing schemes to the Federal Trade Commission at email@example.com. You can also use firstname.lastname@example.org to report it to the Anti-Phishing Working Group.
If your problem is with Microsoft, you can all the Microsoft PC hotline at 1-866-PCSAFETY
If you may have been a victim of a phishing scheme, you also need to:
-Change all passwords
-Update security software
-If you know you’ve leaked specific information, such as your credit card number, contact the company immediately to change account numbers and passwords.
-If a real institution was imitated, such as a bank, e-bay, the Better Business Bureau, the FBI or Pay Pal, all who have had their names used in phishing schemes, contact the institution directly to report the scam.
-Review you credit reports
-Check bank and other statements carefully
Facts & Figures about E-mail:
Microsoft’s most recent security report says that 97% of e-mail messages are unwanted.
Hotmail’s spam filter, SmartScreen, blocks more than 4.5 million spam e-mails per day.
Microsoft has assisted in 191 actions against phishers world wide including criminal and civil.
Phishing scams are increasing, getting more sophisticated and now it seems that an actual large scale exposure had resulted from phishing e-mails. Now is the time to change those passwords and update your security software.