Microsoft boosts Xbox Live security, details changes

Earlier this year, we heard about a string of Xbox Live account hacks that had users on edge. The stories of those attacks have since subsided (at least mostly), but account hacking on Xbox Live is still something to guard against. Today, Microsoft announced that it has taken measures to beef up Live's security, with Xbox Live general manager Alex Garden taking to the Blog to detail the changes that have been made, saying "we've worked hard these last several months to further protect our members' accounts, and more is still to come."

He then shared a list of things Microsoft is doing to keep Xbox Live secure. Take a look:

• We've increased notifications to members whose accounts may be compromised to add proofs, update their passwords, and, if necessary, contact Xbox support. This helps our team lock down an account quickly, investigate and restore the account to the rightful owner.

• We've taken legal action to pull down online posts of gamertags, usernames and passwords gathered from malware or phishing schemes to help protect our members.

• Our Xbox LIVE Spring update included many behind the scenes improvements that help us build on security enhancements for the near future.

• We're sending unique codes to the security phone numbers and secondary email addresses provided by members to verify authorization for purchases or account change attempts not stemming from a member's trusted device.

• We're working to reduce market incentives for criminal activity. Engaging in identity theft, trading in stolen accounts and committing credit card fraud are illegal and violate our Terms of Use. Those involved in these activities risk criminal prosecution, account and console bans. That goes for both sellers and buyers of known stolen accounts and content.

Of course, Microsoft can do anything it wants to boost Xbox Live's security and it won't do much to stop hackers if users aren't being proactive in protecting their information. Garden suggests taking five minutes today to make sure your Xbox Live security information is up-to-date and make any necessary changes. Obviously, you should be using a unique password for every one of your online identities, and if you aren't already, now may be a good time to start.

Garden points out that seeing things like "password" and "12345" on lists of compromised passwords is still a very common thing, so Xbox Live users are urged to use stronger passwords. Last but not least (and this kind of goes without saying), don't share your login information with anyone, otherwise you may find yourself with a bunch of charges for Microsoft Points and nothing to show for it other than a maxed-out credit card.