Security Tips & Talk

Tips about computer security, online safety, and privacy

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  • Blog Post: 5 ways to protect your Microsoft account

    Your Microsoft account (formerly your Windows Live ID) is the combination of an email address and a password that you use to sign in to services such as Xbox LIVE and Outlook.com, as well as devices such as Windows Phone and computers running Windows 8. A Microsoft account is free and you can use...
  • Blog Post: April Fools! The most popular pranks cybercriminals use to steal your money

    To celebrate April Fool’s Day, read about the email, web, social networking, and phone scams that we hear about most often. Scams that use the Microsoft name or names of other well-known companies. These scams include fake email messages or websites that use the Microsoft name. The email message...
  • Blog Post: How to recover an account if you haven’t already added security information to it

    A reader asks: What can I do if my account has been hacked and I haven’t already added security information to it? It would be easier to recover your account if you had already associated it with information that cybercriminals can’t easily access, like your mobile phone number or an...
  • Blog Post: Tax scams: 6 ways to help protect yourself

    We’ve received reports that cybercriminals are at it again, luring unsuspecting taxpayers in the United States into handing over their personal information as they rush to file their taxes before the deadline. Here are 6 ways to help protect yourself. 1. Beware of all email, text, or social...
  • Blog Post: 5 safety tips for online dating

    If you’re going to be connecting online this Valentine’s Day (or ever), follow these safety and privacy tips. Avoid catfishing . This is a type of social engineering designed to entice you into a relationship in order to steal your personal information, your money, or both. Always remember...
  • Blog Post: 10 New Year’s resolutions for your digital devices and your online life

    It’s a new year, which means it’s time to resolve to create healthier habits in our daily lives. But we don’t have to stop at just improving our body, mind, and spirit. It’s also a good idea to resolve to keep our PCs, laptops, smartphones, and social networking sites healthy...
  • Blog Post: Microsoft won’t ask for your credit card to unblock your email account

    Tom asks: I’m getting messages from Microsoft about my email account. The messages say that my account is blocked and I can only unblock it with a credit card number. Is this legit? No, these messages sound like a phishing scam , a type of identity theft designed to steal your personal information...
  • Blog Post: 3 ways to help protect your Microsoft account

    A Microsoft account—formerly known as a Windows Live ID—is the combination of an email address and a password that you use to sign in to services such as Xbox LIVE and Outlook.com, as well as devices such as Windows Phone and computers running Windows 8. If you think your Microsoft account...
  • Blog Post: Have authorities detected illegal activities on my computer?

    John writes: I got an email saying that illegal materials were found on my computer and it would be locked until I paid a fine. Is this a scam? Yes, this sounds like a common blackmail scam called ransomware. Ransomware is an email, website or pop-up window that displays warnings about possible...
  • Blog Post: Catfishing: Are you falling for it?

    The news is filled with stories about people, famous and otherwise, getting caught in online dating scams. The phenomenon is so common that it now has a name: Catfishing. The term catfishing comes from the 2010 movie Catfish about a man who was lured into a relationship by a scammer who was using a fake...
  • Blog Post: “Cyber Crime Department” scam

    We’ve received increased reports of a new phishing scam email message that uses the name and official logo of the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit (DCU). The wording varies, but it looks like a security measure and says you need to validate your account by confirming your user name and password or...
  • Blog Post: Filing taxes? Beware of scams

    It’s tax season in the United States, which means it’s time for us to remind you about tax scams—especially email messages that appear to come from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or another legitimate organization. These seemingly valid offers are designed to trick you into turning...
  • Blog Post: Watch out for prize scams

    We’ve seen an increase in scam email messages that promise recipients they have won some kind of prize or a lottery. These unsolicited messages will often claim that the prize is sponsored by Microsoft or another well-known company. They request personal information that cybercriminals can use...
  • Blog Post: Take care with ransomware

    Have you ever received an email or seen a warning page on a website claiming that legal authorities had detected illegal activities on your computer? This scam infects your computer with a type of malicious software called “ransomware.” The aim of ransomware is to prevent you from using...
  • Blog Post: Online fraud: Get practical advice

    Need help spotting an online scam? Download our new free 12-page booklet called Online Fraud: Your Guide to Prevention, Detection, and Recovery . This guide includes: Real-world examples of false promises made in fake emails Images of scam emails to help you avoid them Tips for guarding...
  • Blog Post: The $500 Costco card scam

    Many respondents to a recent Microsoft survey expressed concern about trickier scams that are happening on social networks. The Microsoft Malware Protection Center recently blogged about one of these new scams that claims to offer a free Costco gift card to all Facebook users. But don’t click...
  • Blog Post: Fraud alert: Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit scam

    We’ve received reports about a new phishing scam email that tells “email users across the world” to validate their email account or it will be deleted from “the world email server.” This email is fake, but it does use the official logo of the Microsoft Digital Crimes...
  • Blog Post: Help! My account is sending out spam

    Laura writes: My Hotmail email address has been hacked. Someone sent out a spam email to everyone in my address book. What do I do? If it makes you feel any better, Laura, we get this question a lot. Here’s what to do right now: If you can still sign in to your account, change your...
  • Blog Post: Try Outlook.com

    Outlook.com is Microsoft’s new free cloud email service for personal use. You can use Outlook.com with the Outlook desktop application, via the web at http://outlook.com , or via other email apps that support Exchange ActiveSync or POP3. The new Outlook.com offers several security and privacy...
  • Blog Post: Do you know what your kids are doing online?

    Last month McAfee released results from their 2012 Teen Internet Behavior study . The study revealed that 61 percent of teens think that they can successfully hide their online behavior from their parents. Here are a few examples of what they do: Erase browser history Minimize browser window...
  • Blog Post: Fraud alert: Prize scams

    John writes: I received an email that said that I won a prize from Microsoft and I am concerned that others may fall for this scam. Can't anything be done about these types of scams? The Microsoft Lottery scam is a fraudulent email that claims that you have won a lottery, a prize, a sweepstakes...
  • Blog Post: Help, I’ve been hacked!

    A reader named Karen asks: “I received a message in my Hotmail inbox that said that I’d been hacked and I should change my password. How do I do this?” If you think your Hotmail account has been hacked, go to the Reset your password page. Karen didn’t say whether the...
  • Blog Post: Research firm rates spam filters

    Spam filters for email programs are a little like the roof on a house. You wouldn’t want to live without one, but some are better than others. Recent research from Cascade Insights showed that no email program they tested did better than Hotmail at filtering spam. Get tricks for getting rid...
  • Blog Post: Who’s more likely to fall for scams? The answer might surprise you

    A recent Ponemon Institute study (in cooperation with PC Tools) challenges the myth that people who fall for scams are generally older. According to survey results, 18-25 year olds are among the groups that are more susceptible to online scams. Respondents also said that a free prize or free antivirus...
  • Blog Post: Income tax scams already!?

    You’d have to be a real early bird to be expecting your income tax return in the United States already. And yet, we’ve begun to see phishing scams that appear to come from support@irs.gov and offer links where you can check the status of your return. The message uses language straight...
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