MSN blunder causes user confusion, smells phishy

US staffer issues global error

It may have look like a phishing attack, but an alert sent out to Windows Live Messenger (MSN) users to change their details was triggered by an internal blunder in the US.

Users were asked via a message sent over the network to change their email address “as part of a recent system enhancement” in order to continue to use MSN. Users were requested to follow a provided hyperlink to a support page to ensure MSN access was not blocked.

However, when users followed the link, they were issued with an error message stating that their account could not be changed.

A Microsoft spokesperson said the network message was issued incorrectly and triggered by human error. The spokesperson noted the blunder, while an inconvenience to users, did not pose a threat.

“These service notifications are only used for urgent issues but unfortunately, somebody made a mistake that caused this message to be sent out. We will definitely be reviewing our process to make sure we avoid such mistakes in the future,” the company wrote on its blog “Again, we’re very sorry for any confusion that may have been caused.” Microsoft also assured users that their machines had not been placed at risk by following the link. But the vendor’s apology was lost to many agitated users commenting on the blog. One user pleaded with Microsoft to send out a notice to affected users, spread across the world, to avert an inundation of calls from his “not-so-techy relatives”. Some refused to follow the link, assuming it was a phishing attack. Another commented the blog notification would not reach enough users: “A blog post on a site that nobody reads is not nearly enough to clear up the confusion and dissipate the frustration felt by everyone who got this. This is unacceptable and I am very dissatisfied with the whole experience”.

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