IT security and data protection firm Sophos is calling upon Microsoft to enhance its popular Hotmail service, and provide an important security feature which users of its rivals Gmail and Yahoo enjoy.
Hotmail does not provide its 350 million users with an easy way to tell if their account has been accessed by unauthorised third parties, whereas Gmail and Yahoo allow users to check when accounts were last accessed and from what IP address.
As incidents of hacking involving web email accounts are common, Sophos notes that it is important for users to be able to check if their account has recently been accessed at an unusual time or from an irregular location or device.
“Although Hotmail does actually store the activity information that its rivals share with users, it can only be extracted from Microsoft with proper legal paperwork if a criminal investigation is taking place,” said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. “This isn’t much consolation for a battered wife who's petrified that her partner is secretly reading her email, or someone who is worried that they might have been hacked. Microsoft seems to have put lots of effort into rebranding Hotmail as "Outlook" recently - it's a shame it didn't also take the opportunity to introduce this fairly simple-to-implement security feature at the same time.”