Hotmail to block weak passwords and spot spam

Report account that has been hacked and change passwords

Hotmail is beefing up its security in the fight with spam.

Microsoft is now implementing a policy to ban the use of common passwords such as '123456' and 'ilovecats' and 'gogiants' in an effort to prevent hacking.

"This new feature will be rolling out soon, and will prevent you from choosing a very common password when you sign up for an account or when you change your password," said Dick Craddock, group program manager, Hotmail.

Users already using passwords on Microsoft's list of being too common, will be asked to change it to something stronger.

In addition, a new feature has been introduced to Hotmail, where users are allowed to report an account that seems to be sending spam, as being hacked.

The feature will allow users to flag an email as "My friend's been hacked!" which lets Microsoft know of the suspected hacking. Whoever's account user's flag with being hacked will also be sent an email, asking them to change their password.

The spammer will be blocked from using account, and the real user will have to go through steps of recovery to gain control of his/her email again.

Microsoft will expand this feature to other email platforms, saying alerts will also be sent to Google and Yahoo! when a Hotmail users receives spam from either of these mail accounts.

"We’ve had this feature turned on for only a few weeks, and we’ve already identified thousands of customers who have had their accounts hacked and helped those customers reclaim their account," said Craddock.

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