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Microsoft to start alerting users of suspected 'state-sponsored' attacks

Microsoft announced Wednesday that it would be joining the growing industry trend of alerting users of suspected government hacking attempts. The announcement comes just nine days after Reuters questioned the company's decision to not inform members of a hacking campaign in 2011 allegedly carried out by Chinese authorities that targeted international leaders of China's Tibetan and Uighur minorities, as well as diplomats, media workers, and human rights lawyers. Though Microsoft allegedly knew that Chinese authorities were behind the hacking, they did not disclose that information to users of its email service, Reuters reports.

"We're taking this additional step of specifically letting you know if we have evidence that the attacker may be 'state-sponsored' because it is likely that the attack could be more sophisticated or more sustained than attacks from cybercriminals and others," Microsoft said in a blog post published Wednesday, later telling Reuters that as "the threat landscape has evolved our approach has too." Previously, the company offered alerts of security breaches without specifying the identity of the suspected hacker.

Facebook, Twitter, and Yahoo installed similar policies in October.