Microsoft Unveils New Security Features

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft has unveiled several new security features designed to help users protect their accounts against hackers. The list includes a recent activity log, security email notifications, and changes to two-step verification.

The new features apply to Microsoft Accounts, or the platform used by Microsoft for its various online services, including SkyDrive, Office 365, Xbox Live, etc.

Because many Microsoft Accounts contain sensitive information -- from email addresses to credit card and banking data -- the Redmond, Washington-based firm is taking security very seriously.

Activity Log Shows When, Where Account Was Accessed

The first new feature is a recent activity log, which allows users to see when their accounts were accessed, and from where.

See a time and place that doesn't look familiar? You can easily click a "this wasn't me" button that immediately sets about locking down your account to prevent data loss. (Source:

Microsoft is also updating its procedure relating to security notifications, which are sent out when a user does something like reset a password or access their account from a new device.

Now, users can have security emails sent to both their selected email addresses and a smartphone. For people who use their phones more than their email accounts, this will be a useful new feature.

Microsoft has also updated its two-step verification process. For those unfamiliar with the idea, two-step verification requires users enter more than just a password to access their accounts; instead, they must also enter a phone number or alternative email address.

Now, Microsoft will allow users to create a special recovery code when they can't access that phone number or email address. It's a lengthy 25-digit code, so Microsoft suggests users write it down and put it in a safe place. (Source:

Microsoft's Transition to a "Devices and Services" Company Continues

So, why make these changes now?

Experts, like PC World's Jared Newman, say it's an important step for Microsoft "in its new push as a 'devices-and-services' company."

"Microsoft wants to carve out a bigger role for online services such as Office 365, SkyDrive,, and Xbox, working across multiple platforms," Newman says.

"With all of these products tied to a single Microsoft login, the potential security headaches only get bigger, so Microsoft needs to ramp up its security efforts accordingly." (Source:

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