How to check for hackers

With all the security breaches we're having these days, it doesn't hurt to be vigilant for any suspicious activity. Your Microsoft account—linking SkyDrive, Outlook.com, Office webapps, Xbox, and possibly your PC—comes with a tool that shows you if any unauthorized parties tried to get into your account.

It's much like Google's and Dropbox's "last activity" solution: Microsoft keeps a log of successful and unsuccessful sign-ins, incorrect password attempts, and so on—along with the IP address, a map, and other details of the attempted device. Log into your Microsoft account and click the "Recent activity" link in the left menu to see it.

It looks like this:

 

Microsoft recent activity

As you can see from my example, someone in Russia tried to get into my account but entered the wrong password. The map tells me this is someone in Khabarovsk, a place I've never been.

I'm not too concerned with that unsuccessful attempt. Because it's an unknown device and I have two-factor authentication turned on—something everyone should do wherever possible—the supposed hacker couldn't get in without my other authenticating device.

What would be troubling is if there was a successful sign-in from a location that's not mine. Then you know you've been compromised. You can hit the "This wasn't me" button on that page to tell Microsoft and recover your account.

Anyway, like looking at logs of your Wi-Fi router's login attempts, it's nice to remember every now and then that everything is all right.

This story, "How to check for hackers" was originally published by ITworld.

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