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Microsoft offers security enhancement for sign-ins

NEW YORK — Microsoft is offering enhanced security for its e-mail, storage, and other services.

People who turn on the new feature will be asked not just for a username and password, but also a second piece of information, such as a temporary code sent as a text message to a phone on file. Google Inc. and Facebook Inc. already offer two-step verification.

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The security enhancements work with all Microsoft accounts. Those accounts unlock a range of Microsoft Corp. products, including e-mail, Skype, SkyDrive storage, Xbox gaming, Office software subscriptions, and Windows 8 machines.

Microsoft has no plans to lift its current 16-character limit on passwords. Having a long password is one way to thwart hackers, but Microsoft says passwords are often compromised when people reuse them on multiple sites, respond to scam e-mails, or use machines that have malicious software. Longer passwords aren’t helpful in those situations, the company says.

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