Security Tips & Talk

Tips about computer security, online safety, and privacy

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  • Blog Post: Why do I have to update my email account information?

    We’ve noticed comments from many of you asking why we want you to verify your Microsoft security information. We’d like to explain why verifying this information is important. To help protect your email account and your personal data, we ask everyone who has a Microsoft account to make sure...
  • 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: There is no Hotmail Maintenance Department

    Cassie writes: I received an email from the Hotmail Maintenance Department requesting personal information verification. The message included a PDF file. Is this a scam? Yes. This is one of many types of email cybercrime, also called phishing . Cybercriminals often use the Microsoft name to try...
  • Blog Post: Fraud alert: Free "Xbox points"

    Although Microsoft was founded 38 years ago this month, don't fall for a widespread scam that offers free “Xbox points” for wishing the company a happy birthday. Online offers that seem too good to be true probably are. Learn more about common scams that use the Microsoft name . One way...
  • 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: Help! My email’s been hacked

    If you use Outlook.com or Hotmail and think your account has been hacked , you should act right away to help protect your Microsoft account . If you can still access your Microsoft account, sign in and immediately change your password. For Outlook.com, go to the Password and Security section; for...
  • Blog Post: Watch out for fake Java updates

    You may have seen reports about security alerts for Java recently. Java is a commonly used piece of software from Oracle, so there’s a good chance you have it installed on your computer. Cybercriminals often use fake virus alerts to lure you into buying fraudulent antivirus software. These alerts...
  • 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: Fraud alert: Olympics malware

    We’ve received reports of fake emails, fake websites, and other scams that take advantage of people’s interest in the 2012 Olympics. Here are our top tips for avoiding spam and malware of any kind: Use email that filters spam. (Try the new Outlook.com , which helps limit spam in...
  • 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: Win the battle against email fraud

    Cybercriminals use email fraud (sometimes called “phishing”) to steal your personal data or information such as credit card numbers, passwords, account data, or other information. Cybercriminals might send millions of fraudulent email messages with links to fraudulent websites that appear...
  • 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...
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