'My Friend's Been Hacked' Tool Added to Hotmail

It's happened to us all. We're sifting through emails and we see a message from a friend we haven't talked to in a while. Upon opening it we discover this friend has either started pedaling Rolex watches or moved to Nigeria to marry a prince who needs our bank details. If you're like me, you delete the email and (if you remember) mention that your friend should change his or her password. However, Hotmail users now have an even faster and more effective way to nip account hijacking the bud: a 'My friend's been hacked!' button.

Speaking via the Windows Live blog, Microsoft's Dick Craddock explained that the feature will work in tandem with the company's existing compromise detection tools.

"When we detect bad behavior from an account (like an account that suddenly starts sending spam), we mark that account as compromised. It’s a bit like your credit card company putting a hold on your account when they detect suspicious activity. Hotmail takes that report and combines it with the other information from the compromise detection engine to determine if the account in question has in fact been hijacked," he explained, adding, "It turns out that the report that comes from you can be one of the strongest 'signals' to the detection engine, since you may be the first to notice the compromise. So, when you help out this way, it makes a big difference!"

Once an account has been marked as compromised, it's frozen so that the hijacker can no longer use it. Next time your friend tries to log in, he or she will be put through an account recovery flow that helps them take back control of the account.

The feature should appear under the 'Mark as...' drop down and will also work for messages from friends with accounts with Gmail or Yahoo! Mail.

Jane McEntegart works in marketing communications at Intel and was previously Manager of Content Marketing at ASUS North America. Before that, she worked for more than seven years at Tom's Guide and Tom's Hardware, holding such roles as Contributing Editor and Senior News Editor and writing about everything from smartphones to tablets and games consoles.