back to article Microsoft to begin alerting users about suspected government snooping

Microsoft will warn email and OneDrive users if it detects apparent attempts by governments to hack into their accounts. The rollout of the alert system on Wednesday follows reports Redmond had failed to warn Hotmail users targeted by Chinese hackers, according to former employees. Reuters reports Microsoft was hacked in 2011 …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    Is this exciting new PR move to include warnings of spying perpetrated by the US government?

    :-S

    1. BebopWeBop

      Re: Is this exciting new PR move to include warnings of spying perpetrated by the US government?

      Appreciate the joke... To extend it, or any of Five Eyes?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is this exciting new PR move to include warnings of spying perpetrated by the US government?

      Jokey question, but serious backdrop: no, because you hit exactly the nail on the head:

      1 - Microsoft can be legally barred from disclosure - not only in the US, but in plenty other nations too. To be fair, this makes sense - if you're chasing a criminal you don't want to tip them off, the problem is that a lack of accountability and transparency inevitably rather quickly leads to abuse.

      2 - Thus - as it is unlikely Microsoft doesn't have good lawyers who know these things - it's utter BS and Microsoft knows it. Oh, and they can't accuse the Chinese - all you can know for certain is that a certain IP address with associated geo location was involved. You don't know if that is a controlled machine or one that has been co-opted to act as a proxy..

      So, hurray, another load of BS from Microsoft. I presume they will want to start the new year in the same vein so I wonder what rubbish announcement we'll hear next. Trustworthy Windows 10, perhaps?

      :)

      1. h4rm0ny

        Re: Is this exciting new PR move to include warnings of spying perpetrated by the US government?

        I don't care (much) about the Chinese government spying on me. The Chinese government doesn't give a shit what I think about David Cameron or Islamic State or if I write criticisms of UK policy. They'll never send a Beijing police officer round to my door and I'll never be thrown in a Chinese prison for having been at a protest in Trafalgar Square or leaking evidence of government corruption or British war crimes.

        It's the UK and USA intelligence apparatus that, logically speaking, are a threat to me, no?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Is this exciting new PR move to include warnings of spying perpetrated by the US government?

          "It's the UK and USA intelligence apparatus that, logically speaking, are a threat to me, no?"

          I'll have to agree with you there.

          And the US government in particular does not feel constrained by things like the rights of its citizens or obeying the law.

          1. Chris Parsons Bronze badge

            Re: Is this exciting new PR move to include warnings of spying perpetrated by the US government?

            And the worrying thing - so many pillocks who still spout 'if you've nothing to hide...'

        2. Flywheel Silver badge

          Re: Is this exciting new PR move to include warnings of spying perpetrated by the US government?

          "I'll never be thrown in a Chinese prison for having been at a protest in Trafalgar Square"

          Possibly not at the moment, but if you keep up with the (other) news you'll see Cameron and Chums practically falling over themselves to "accommodate" China due to business interests. This includes our near-future Chinese nuclear power station if they're to be believed. They also seem to be replacing the Saudis as new Best Buddies.

          In fact, I'd go so far as to say that in a few years time, if China got really annoyed with a British citizen, they'd only need to whisper in the relevant ear and that person would no longer be a problem.

          </tinfoil_hat>

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Is this exciting new PR move to include warnings of spying perpetrated by the US government?

            "In fact, I'd go so far as to say that in a few years time, if China got really annoyed with a British citizen, they'd only need to whisper in the relevant ear and that person would no longer be a problem."

            So, the worst, fully tinfoil encumbered depths of your paranoia amount to imagining something which might approach resembling our present UNSA "centric" reality then.

      2. P. Lee

        Re: Is this exciting new PR move to include warnings of spying perpetrated by the US government?

        >1 - Microsoft can be legally barred from disclosure - not only in the US, but in plenty other nations too. To be fair, this makes sense

        If you don't follow the argument through, it does. What happens if you're a Chinese criminal? Is it then ok to tip the user off?

        No MS, I don't fear the Chinese government more than I fear your attempts at lock-in.

        You can keep your onedrive!

  2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Er?

    How does this stack up to the [cough, cough] feed of all that lovely slurp data that MS collects to the NSA/GCHQ/FSB/etc?

    Talk about stable doors and long bolted horses....

    1. elDog

      Re: Er?

      Since Redmond is not warning us of these "friendly" hacks they don't exist. Get back to your cell.

  3. King Jack

    Goldfish

    The average human has the same memory as a goldfish. They have already forgotten that everything they do on their computers is reported to M$ who will freely give it to anyone they deem deserving of it. So this announcement will work.

  4. Neil Alexander

    Shame that the UK is already legislating against such alerts.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Neil Alexander: Shame that the UK is already legislating against such alerts

      Interesting comment, can you or anyone give any more details ?

      I did google appropriate queries but couldn't get anything useful ...

      Links would be fine, thanks.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Snoopers Charter

    So lets hypothetically test this.

    Suppose William Hague, David Cameron, Theresa May had a morning briefing like Obamas*. In it was the surveillance data for opposition, Parliament, journalists investigative stories etc.

    Technically they wouldn't hack to get that, GCHQ has access to PRISM which lets them query Parliaments emails by their selectors. The fact the server is in Ireland means nothing, its on the Microsoft network and thus trivial to access.

    Would Microsoft notify Parliament of the hack? No, it would be legally gagged from revealing it.

    Journalists are spied on using Tempora and by serving UK ISPs with secret demands to hand over the data under that old 1984 Telecoms act. So again, spying on journalists wouldn't cause Microsoft to inform them.

    So this is worthless. The only way to ensure privacy and democracy is to encrypt end to end, and if they want the data, get a court order to compel decryption.

    * In case you missed it, Wall Street Journal revealed Obama gets a morning briefing of world leaders private documents even before they express their talking points. So he has a big lever to use over them to ensure they stay on his desired message.

    Imagine if your opponent goes into a debate knowing your questions, or some fake propaganda comes out just ahead of your big speech to undermine your key points, or a deal is struck to undermine you.

    So Parliamentary discussions about NSA/GCHQ snooping will form part of that Obama briefing, and likely other world leaders use of MS servers. Did they informed of a government hack? No? So this is worthless.

  6. Your alien overlord - fear me

    So personal emails aren't Pesonally Identifable. Huh? Sounds like that law was written by people interested in havesting innocent fellow countrymens emails even if they already act outside the law.

  7. RISC OS

    I'm more woried about

    The NSA than the chinese. Are you going to alert me about them hacking my account?

  8. VinceH

    With the big companies now all doing this, I predict that in 2016 we will start seeing phishes based around the notifications.

  9. x 7

    this is preparation for them losing the Irish case........

  10. Robert Helpmann??
    Childcatcher

    Why such a narrow definition?

    I would prefer that they notify me (assuming for a moment I was a customer) if there was any detected attempt to hack my account, as soon as it became known, regardless of who it was. The source shouldn't concern MS in this regard given that if there were a subpoena, then they would simply be handing legally required data to the authorities. Whether that should be done is a completely different question - the difference between legally authorized and unauthorized access. Even if users employ end-to-end encryption, I would think it is reasonable to be notified about attempts to access that skirt any legal process.

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

  12. David Roberts

    In related news

    The Government promises to alert us to possible Microsoft snooping.

  13. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Assuming such warnings are by email I can't see how such warnings wouldn't get lost amongst all the phishing spam claiming to be from Microsoft. The first thing they need to do is to tighten up on their spam filters so that 100% of that spam is marked. Only then would users take note of the warnings.

  14. Howard Hanek
    Happy

    More Likely Explanation

    I imagine at the suggestion of the NSA Microsoft 'announced' that they were 'considering' alerting MS users to 'possible' government eavesdropping while actually facilitating the governments long list of MS targeted users.....

    This would aid their defense from any user class action lawsuits........

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