There’s a Windows Live and Hotmail email phishing scam going around. The email attempts to trick victims into disclosing their Windows Live credentials and other personal information by claiming that a Trojan has been detected in the user’s Windows Live folders. The fraudulent email claims that the personal information is needed to upgrade the user’s email account with a 1024-bit RSA key anti-virus firewall, and that if the user does not comply, their email account will be terminated.

Windows Live and Hotmail Email Phishing Scam: Account Upgrade!!(Verify Now)

This phishing email claims to come from the Windows Live™ team. However, the email address associated with the account is lbhughes100@msn.com – not exactly an email address I would expect to see from an official Windows Live communication. The subject line of the email is “Account Upgrade!!(Verify Now)”. Note the missing space between the second exclamation mark and the open parenthesis. That mistake was made by the spammers; it’s not a typo on my part.

The email reads as follows:

From: Windows Live™ TEAM (lbhughes100@msn.com)
Subject: Account Upgrade!!(Verify Now)

Dear Windows Live customer,

Windows Live™ MSN is faster, safer than ever before and filled with new ways to stay in touch. Storage space that grows with you means you shouldn’t have to worry about deleting your e-mail, and the new calendar makes it easy to share your schedule with family and friends. Due to increased spam and phishing activities globally, a DGTFX trojan virus has been detected in your windows live folders. Your email account will be upgraded with our new secure 1024-bit RSA key anti-virus firewall to prevent damage to our email servers and to your important files. Click your reply tab, fill the columns below and send back to us or your email account will be terminated to avoid spread of the virus.

* User Name:……………………………………..

* Password:……………………………………….

* Confirm Password:……………………………

* Year of Birth:…………………………………..

* Country Or Territory:………………………..

Note that your password will be encrypted with 1024-bit RSA keys for your password safety.

If you use Hotmail, MSN or Live! you’re using Windows Live. Your Hotmail address and password gives you access to the full suite of Windows Live services so you can stay connected with the people and things that matter to you online. Plan your next event, write a blog, create a discussion group, even get updates from other websites you use. – “Your Life, Your Stuff, All Together at Windows Live.” we wish to serve you better…

This Account Update will Improve our services to you.

You can access your Hotmail, Messenger and SkyDrive faster directly from your phone or phone’s web browser. For more info, see Get mail on your phone, Get Messenger on your phone, and Get SkyDrive on your phone. We remain focused on making Hotmail, Messenger, SkyDrive and your Windows PC the best that they can be. Note that this change has no impact on your ability to access Hotmail, Messenger, and Skydrive. Thanks for your understanding and patience as we update our services. Sincerely,

The Windows Live Team

Microsoft respects your privacy. To learn more, please read our online Privacy Statement.

Microsoft Corporation
One Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052

There are six links in this phishing email. Two of the links point to home.live.com. The other four links point to URLs in the form of microsoft.windowslive.com/Key-*.

How to Identify a Phishing Email?

There are a few telltale signs that this is a phishing scam.

  1. It asks for personal information. No legitimate company, including Microsoft, will ever ask you for personal information via email. That includes your username, password and date of birth. This is the biggest red flag.
  2. It contains poor grammar, misspellings and looks unprofessional. If you receive an email claiming to be from a large enterprise, like Microsoft, with grammatical mistakes and misspellings, you can be sure it did not really originate from them. Large companies ensure that their emails look professional. In the case of this Windows Live phishing email, the subject line and from field are enough to give it away. Note the double exclamation marks and missing space in the subject line. Also note that the word ‘team’ in the from field is written in all capital letters. You don’t even need to click on the email to know it’s a scam.
  3. The sender’s email address is unprofessional. First, it’s from an MSN account, which anyone on the Internet can get for free, instead of from an official Microsoft domain. Second, the first part of the email address is ‘lbhughes100’, again very unprofessional looking (and suspicious).
  4. There is a sense of urgency. This pressures you into feeling like you need to take action right away, and do not have the time to research the legitimacy of it.

How to Protect Yourself From Phishing Emails?

Here are a few things you can do to protect your identity, and personal information, and avoid becoming a victim of phishing email scams.

  • If you receive an email message claiming to be from Hotmail, MSN or Windows Live, with the subject line Account Upgrade!!(Verify Now), or similar, do not open it and delete it immediately.
  • If you mistakenly open the email message, don’t click on any links in the email or download any attachments, and delete it right away.
  • To report spam, Hotmail users should click the “Junk” button. Non-Hotmail users should send an email to report_spam@hotmail.com, report_spam@msn.com or report_spam@live.com (depending on the originating mail domain: hotmail or msn or live), and attach a copy of the spam email.
  • Spread the word. Spammers get away with this because most people aren’t aware of these threats, so tell your friends by sharing a link to this post, or any other post on the topic.
  • Read and follow the most important steps for internet security to protect your computer from cybercrimes.

Have you received a similar email?