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Hotmail passwords leaked online

Thousands of Microsoft Live Hotmail passwords have been leaked to the Web. Microsoft has released a statement confirming the leak.

Update October 6 at 11:25 a.m.: This was later discovered to be an industrywide problem that has affected users of Gmail and possibly other e-mail services as well. See more details here.

Thousands of Windows Live Hotmail passwords have been leaked online, Microsoft has confirmed. The news was first reported by Neowin.

According to Microsoft, it "learned that several thousand Windows Live Hotmail customers' credentials were exposed on a third-party site" at some point over the weekend. Neowin originally reported that the credentials were posted to a developer forum on Pastebin.com on October 1.

After learning of the breach, Microsoft "immediately requested that the credentials be removed and launched an investigation to determine the impact to customers," it wrote on its Windows Live blog.

The company was quick to point out that credentials were stolen through what was "likely a phishing scheme." The company said that it "was not a breach of internal Microsoft data." It's currently "working to help customers regain control of their accounts."

Microsoft did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.

Microsoft didn't say exactly how many accounts were affected, but Neowin reported that the original list displayed accounts with names starting with "A" and "B."

Twitter and other social networks are abuzz with people advising others to change their passwords. Microsoft wrote in the blog post that those who believe they were affected by the phishing scheme should immediately do just that.

Updated at 1:30 p.m. PDT to include Microsoft's confirmation of the breach.