Microsoft Increases Security of Outlook Hotmail Connector

Windows Live HotmailMicrosoft has recently boosted the security of a certain tool that allows Outlook users to send and receive messages via Microsoft’s web-based Hotmail service. The new Outlook Hotmail Connector now supports HTTPS, a protocol which encrypts all traffic between the email client and the Windows Live Hotmail service.

Back in November of 2010, Microsoft added an all-HTTPS option to Hotmail, due in part as a reaction to Firesheep, a Firefox add-on released the month before which allowed anybody to scan an unsecured WiFi network and hijack other people’s access to Facebook, Twitter and a whole bunch of other websites.

The update to the Outlook Hotmail Connector that was released this week is simply a follow-up to Microsoft’s move back in 2010. According to Microsoft’s Outlook team, “Using a connection with HTTPS helps you be even more confident that your account is safer from hijackers, and that your private information remains private.”

This new tool encrypts communication between Outlook and the Windows Live email, calendar and contact services. Google’s Gmail beat out Hotmail to the HTTPS by more than a few years. Gmail users have had this option of encrypting all Gmail traffic since 2008. However, in mid-January of 2010 Google enabled HTTPS by default on the same day it accused hackers from China of breaking into its systems and trying to access the Gmail accounts of human rights activists who lived in the country at the time.

In addition to this, Microsoft has also updated the consumer-grade Windows Live Mail to support HTTPS as well. Unlike its Outlook Express predecessor, which just so happened to be bundled with Windows XP, Windows Live Mail is an optional download for Windows Vista and Windows 7. Outlook Hotmail Connector can be downloaded in 32-bit or 64-bit versions for Outlook 2003, 2007 and 2010 on Windows. There is no similar tool for outlook 2011, which was included with Office for Mac 2011.

The Windows Live Essentials update, which includes the HTTPS-enabled Windows Live Mail, is available here or on Microsoft’s download website as well.

Source: Computer World – Microsoft beefs up Outlook-to-Hotmail security

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