Hotmail used to have a terrible reputation when it came to security. Insecure, easily spoofed, weak verification, open HTTP session controls. Microsoft HAD to do something to manage it’s reputation and safeguard the Hotmail platform as the hub for personal and business communications.
Hotmail has gone through a series of upgrades so that it now has a robust set of measures that help protect your account from hackers, phishers and viruses:
- HTTPS secure sign-in from beginning to end
- Trusted sender icons to identify acceptable messages in your Inbox
- Tools to report suspicious emails
If you go to the Hotmail Security page, you will find advice and information on how to make it more secure. Recognising that security begins with the weakest link – the user, the majority of whom on Hotmail are not the top percentile of technical gurus, they just want a mail system that works – the first section is Help protect your account.
Second is Connect with HTTPS: the option of using a more secure connection to Hotmail and other Windows Live services, like SkyDrive. Microsoft should now mandate the use of HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) by default to encrypt , your sign-in information is as it’s sent over the Internet. Oh, well, it”s a start. The page does give instructions on how to create an HTTPS connection: in your browser’s address bar, type https://mail.live.com or https://hotmail.com, and then sign in to Hotmail as usual.
Look for trusted sender icon in messages
Third, Hotmail’s trusted sender icon are supposed to let you know that a message is from a legitimate sender that Hotmail has verified, like your bank or the Windows Live team. I find this of limited value, and it’s proprietary to Microsoft, but any effort is welcome.
Watch for yellow and red safety bars
“Attachments, pictures and links in this message have been blocked for your safety.”
This one drives me nuts, purely for the number of false positives both Hotmail and Outlook throw up. A good idea, but the way it is implemented, you either have to go fishing around in settings to unblock them or go to an administrator. I’d rather have the choice than Microsoft tell me what’s best for me.
Much of this has been foisted on us through the roll-out of Microsoft’s much vaunted Most of the time, SmartScreen, a collection of code that works behind the scenes to separate ‘legitimate’ messages from spam to help keep your Inbox clean. It also automatically verifies senders and lets you know when to be wary of a sender (using the dreaded safety bars).
You can understand Microsoft locking things down like this; perhaps, knowing the lack of tech-savy among millions of Hotmail users, maybe the overcautious Nanny approach is better for it and us. AJS