Microsoft Ups Xbox Live Security With Optional Two-Step Verification

By Trevor Ruben , Updated Apr 18, 2013 09:56 AM EDT

Microsoft is rolling out an upgrade to its Microsoft Account system over the next couple days, increasing security options for those users who want to do more to protect their personal information. Microsoft Accounts are the all-encompassing center-points for Xbox Live, Outlook, SkyDrive, Office and other Microsoft services.

"With all this potential," reads the Microsoft Blog post, "criminals increasingly target customers online... some people have asked for more tools to protect themselves."

Microsoft's answer is an optional two-step verification system for user logins. If enabled, Microsoft will ask for your password and another piece of information, which could be "a code sent to a phone or email on file as security info." Basically, it's like resetting your password if you've forgotten it, only every time you log in.

It's unclear if this affects Xbox Live logins on your Xbox 360 or only logins through other devices. One would assume the system will recieve some sort of patch or update to accommodate the change if the former is the case.

"Two-step verification protects you everywhere you use your Microsoft account; on Windows 8, any Web browser, and even Microsoft apps and services on iOS and Android devices," reads the post.

Microsoft already uses a mandatory two-step program for access and changes to more sensitive information - accessing SkyDrive files on a new computer, changing credit card information, etc. - but emphasized that the upgrade for all logins would only be optional. Users can ignore it completely if they want.

If email or text codes aren't your thing, smart phone users can download an authenticator app that automatically gives you a code on command, similar to "Diablo 3" and other online games.

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