Microsoft recently announced measures to notify users if their accounts are being targeted or compromised by governments.
“We’re committed to helping our users keep their personal information secure and private. A key part of our work is identifying and preventing unauthorized access to your Microsoft Account (including Outlook.com email and OneDrive) by anyone other than you,” wrote Scott Charney, the corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing.
Already, Microsoft warns and provides users with recommendations if their accounts are targeted by a third party.The addition of specifying if the attacker is state-sponsored is due to the likelihood the attack would be more sophisticated and more sustained than attacks from cybercriminals and others, according to Charney.
“The evidence we collect in any active investigation may be sensitive, so we do not plan on providing detailed or specific information about the attackers or their methods. But when the evidence reasonably suggests the attacker is ‘state-sponsored,’ we will say so,” Charney wrote.
In 2012, Google implemented similar security warnings for suspected state-sponsored attacks. Like Microsoft, Google did not specify what potential evidence warrants the issuing of a state-sponsored attackers warning.
Facebook and Twitter implemented similar security measures in 2015.
“If you receive one of these notifications it doesn’t necessarily mean that your account has been compromised, but it does mean we have evidence your account has been targeted, and it’s very important you take additional measures to keep your account safe,” Charney wrote.