There are plenty of scams, hacks, and viruses to watch out for online, but ransomware is among the worst. The tactic, in which hackers take over your online accounts and hold them hostage in exchange for cash, has become increasingly common over the past few years.
Photo: Flickr/Robert Scoble
If you're worried that could happen to you, Microsoft's latest OneDrive and Outlook updates should put some of those fears to rest. The company is rolling out a bunch of new security features to keep your private data protected when you use its cloud storage and email apps, with one caveat — you need to subscribe to its Office 365 service.
To protect you from ransomware, OneDrive is getting a new Files Restore feature that lets you revert your account to any point in the past 30 days. For example, if you get targeted by a hacker (or delete all your files by mistake), you can quickly access an unblemished backup. Microsoft will also warn you if you're being targeted by ransomware so you have time to act before you're locked out the account entirely.
Microsoft is shoring up its email service, too. To start, all messages and attachments sent with Outlook will now get end-to-end encryption. You can also put a password on any OneDrive link sent over Outlook for an extra layer of protection. Finally, the company is adding the option to turn off forwarding for specific emails sent from Outlook, if you're worried that a message with valuable information might accidentally get passed along to the wrong person.
According to Microsoft, this feature also stops the recipient from copying the text of your email, but someone could probably find a way around this block if they were really determined.
Almost everything Microsoft announced is available today — assuming you've updated your OneDrive and Outlook apps. The one exception is password-protected OneDrive links, which should roll out in the next few weeks.