Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
I own a Hotmail account which someone hacked into. I managed to get back the password which they had changed, as they must have felt guilty and sent the new password to my brother on MSN Messenger. I went into my account which I hadn't been able to get on for months - turns out they have caused a lot of trouble for me - changed passwords for other websites which I can no longer access, sent out personal emails to family and friends. They also contacted my friends and family with vulgar and abusive language pretending it was me!
As you can imagine, I am very upset and angry, it has really got me down. I have a feeling I know who it is but cannot point my finger yet. I was told that if I contacted MSN support they could give me all of the IP numbers which signed onto my account at that particular time, and find out who it was. Is this possible?
To be honest, I'm still fairly shocked at how often this question comes up. Apparently there's a lot of account hacking going on, though poor password management is actually more likely. Regardless of exactly how, accounts are hacked into, and havoc often results.
I'm not at all surprised that people want to track down the culprit.
Unfortunately, for most of us, I believe that the news is not good.
Tracking down who logged into your account is highly unlikely. There are at least two huge issues at play here:
MSN Hotmail may simply not keep that information. I mean, that's a lot of data that they would have to track, given the millions of subscribers and millions upon millions of logins that happen every day. From a purely practical point of view, I can't imagine them keeping that information, or if they do, keeping it for any length of time.
But, having said that, it's certainly possible that they do, so...
They're not about to give that information to just anyone. In fact, I would be very concerned if they did give it if you simply asked. There are major privacy and security issues that result if they were to provide that information easily. There may even be possible legal liability issues for MSN if they responded to that type of request.
The third issue is simply that the IP address may not be enough to help you anyway. See the related articles below for more on why that might be.
So, ultimately, I believe that the information, if it exists at all, is just not available to "mere mortals" such as you and I. In fact, you and I want it to be difficult to get, simply to protect our own privacy in normal use.
I've said this before: if this type of information is available at all, I believe it would take law enforcement or a court order to get it. So, I suppose you could try pursuing with your local authorities, and if they find that there's legitimate reason to act on it, they probably can.
But my bottom line belief is that it's simply not practically available to us.
Your best action is simply to learn from this, and do what it takes to properly secure your account. Typically that means not sharing your password with anyone, and choosing difficult to guess passwords, and where appropriate, difficult to guess answers to your "secret question". In my opinion it also means not using free email accounts for anything sensitive or important.
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