Even if only a small number of users had their email contents breached, not being totally honest about the situation won't have done Microsoft any PR favors, and could see customers question any future statements from the company.
A report from Motherboard and citing an unnamed source with knowledge of the hack reveals that the attackers could "gain access to any email account as long as it wasn't a corporate level account". Microsoft sent an email to the affected users last Friday, alerting them that hackers had potentially been able to access a trove of information, including the subject lines of their emails and the names of the people they've emailed, "but not the content of any e-mails or attachments".
A hacker or group of hackers gained access to a customer support account for Microsoft, from which they then got access to information on customer accounts, including whom they communicated with.
Founded in 1996, Outlook.com is a web-based suite of webmail, contacts, tasks, and calendaring services developed and offered by Microsoft.
Making matters worse was the fact that the company only admitted this after it was presented with screenshot evidence.
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However, responding to an article in the online Vice website Motherboard, Microsoft confirmed that some users were advised that the content of their emails may have been vulnerable to the hacker.
Microsoft hasn't divulged the number of accounts that may have been hit by the compromise but claimed that it was only a "limited subset of consumer accounts".
Over the weekend, Microsoft confirmed that its email services suffered a breach, allowing hackers to view data associated with MSN, Hotmail, and Outlook email accounts. Although Microsoft says that login details and personal information couldn't have been stolen through this particular approach, the company is advising you mix up your password anyway for the hell of it, too.
"Microsoft regrets any inconvenience caused by this issue", the email concludes.