Microsoft beefs up account security for SkyDrive and Outlook

Users will now be able to view logs of who's being accessing their accounts.

Microsoft has moved to boost the security of its online services, including Outlook, SkyDrive and Xbox. The new features include improved activity monitoring and backup codes.

Users will be able to view a recent usage log containing details such as date/time, IP address and location from where the account was accessed. It will also tell them about successful logins and incorrect password entries. If a user detects any suspicious activity, they can click on a button marked "This wasn't me" to report that an activity wasn't carried out by them and then take steps to tighten up the security of their account.

There are also more controls over security notifications for activities such as resetting passwords and logging in from new devices. While users will still get notifications sent to a primary email address, Microsoft has now added an option to send notifications to extra phone numbers.

Services provided by Microsoft will now also sport recovery codes. These 25-character one-use only codes allow users to log in if a two-step verification fails.

Writing in a blog post, group program manager for Microsoft Accounts - Eric Doerr - said the code was like a spare key to your house. "So make sure you store it in a safe place. You can only request one recovery code at a time; requesting a new code cancels the old one," he added.

Doerr said protecting accounts was a "partnership" between Microsoft and the user.

"The more you help us (with accurate account info, and updated security info), the more we can help you keep your stuff safe," he said. "You know best what's been happening with your account so the more we give you tools to understand what's happening, the better we can work together to protect your account."

He added: "Our goal with this new experience is to give you peace of mind when everything is going well, and give you actionable information if there's questionable activity that concerns you."

The new security features should be available to all users within the next couple of days.

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