Charney's rationale for the new alerts -- which will affect users of Microsoft's Hotmail -- since renamed Outlook.com -- email service, was along those lines. "We're taking this additional step of specifically letting you know if we have evidence that the attacker may be 'state-sponsored' because it is likely that the attack could be more sophisticated or more sustained than attacks from cybercriminals and others," Charney said.
Charney also offered up advice on how users can protect their Microsoft accounts, which ran the usual gamut from enabling two-factor authentication to keeping an eye out for suspicious account activity, such as whether the access password has been recently changed.
Microsoft's move mirrored those of other technology firms with email and communications services. Google instituted state-backed hacking warnings for Gmail in mid-2012, Facebook followed suit two months ago, and Yahoo climbed aboard the bandwagon on Dec. 21.
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