An unknown number of Microsoft Corp. email account users, including those using Outlook and Hotmail, may have had details of emails stolen in a hack that lasted from January 1 to March 28. That last was quickly disputed, with Microsoft later admitting to Motherboard that the hackers had gained access to the content of some customers' emails, about 6 percent of those affected.
Hackers reportedly accessed Microsoft's system by compromising a customer support agent's credentials, which the company said it has now disabled. It added that limited parts of Outlook users' emails may, as a effect, have been compromised too. Email accounts were then accessed and information including each account's email address, folder names, subject lines, and the other email addresses communicated with could be viewed.
Microsoft alerted its users of the breach over the weekend with the following statement published by The Verge: "Our data indicates that account-related information (but not the content of any e-mails) could have been viewed, but Microsoft has no indication why that information was viewed or how it may have been used".
Details of the security breach were revealed when TechCrunch ran a report claiming that some Outlook.com accounts - and those with Hotmail email addresses (the old name for Outlook.com) or MSN.com users - had been compromised.
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Making matters worse was the fact that the company only admitted this after it was presented with screenshot evidence. The company says that hackers had access to the information between January 1 and March 28, but an anonymous source speaking with Motherboard offered a conflicting timeframe, saying that "hackers had access for at least six months".
"Microsoft regrets any inconvenience caused by this issue", the email concludes.
"We addressed this scheme, which affected a limited subset of consumer accounts, by disabling the compromised credentials and blocking the perpetrators access", a Microsoft spokesperson said.