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Microsoft to Warn Users When Governments Come Knocking

December 31, 2015 - Written By Tom Dawson

While the majority of us in these parts are exclusively Google users, there is a fair share of people using Microsoft services as well. Perhaps more so now that apps like OneNote and Outlook have become big parts of users’ lives on Android and now that Microsoft Office is even better on Android. Google, since 2012, has been warning its users when a government agency might be trying to hack into their account, regardless of whether or not that’s for law enforcement or otherwise. Now, three years later it appears like Microsoft is going to kick off 2016 by adopting the same practice for their users.

The move appears to be motivated by recent news that back in 2011, Microsoft chose not to inform their users that a breach had occurred and that their personal information could have been at risk. Writing in a blog post from earlier this week, Microsoft writes that this new step will let “you know if we have evidence that the attacker may be “state-sponsored” because it is likely that the attack could be more sophisticated or more sustained than attacks from cybercriminals and others.” The blog post goes on to say that Microsoft might not always reveal the methods used to attack your data, but reiterates that “when the evidence reasonably suggests the attacker is “state sponsored,” we will say so.”`

This now means that Microsoft joins the list of tech companies that refuses to side with governments all over the world where surveillance and the practice of backdoors is concerned. We’re sure that there are many that will be unhappy with Microsoft’s latest move, but for users of email services such as Outlook and cloud storage service OneDrive, this will be a welcome step in the right direction. As always, there are steps that users can take to keep their account more secure from anybody, and Microsoft have outlined these in the same blog post. One of those is two-step authentication, something that Google and others have been touting for some years now. This is the sort of move that might not make a difference overnight, but it’s a step in the right direction, and moves like it could spark fresh debate as we head into a new year.