Microsoft asks people to 'Do 1 Thing' to stay safer online for Safer Internet Day

The following post is from Jacqueline Beauchere, Chief Online Safety Officer, Microsoft. It was originally published on Microsoft on the Issues.


To mark Safer Internet Day (SID) 2014, Microsoft asks people to “Do 1 Thing” to stay safer online and to make that one thing part of their daily digital routines.

As part of this campaign, on Monday we’re launching a new interactive website Safer Online, where individuals can share their “Do1Thing” promise; learn what others are doing to help protect themselves online, and get instant tips to enhance and better protect their digital lifestyles. These tips include:

  • Lock your devices and online accounts: Use strong passwords and a unique four-digit PIN for mobiles.
  • Save sensitive transactions for secured networks: This includes paying bills, banking or shopping. Don’t share personal account information over “borrowed” or public Wi-Fi
  • Take charge of your online reputation: Discover what’s on the Internet about you, periodically reevaluate what you find and cultivate an accurate and positive reputation.
  • Help protect your social circles: Use privacy settings to manage what information you share and with whom. Be selective about what you post and accepting friends.

It’s all part of our effort to let people know that protecting themselves online is easier than they might think.

For the past three years, Microsoft has fielded a survey, the Computing Safety Index, which measures the steps people report taking to protect their computers, mobile phones and valuable information.

The survey consists of 24 protective steps. The more steps respondents report taking, the higher their Index score, with 100 being the highest rating.

Last year, MCSI researchers surveyed more than 10,000 people aged 18 and older in 20 countries and regions worldwide. With an average Index score of 34.6, it’s clear that the steps people take to protect themselves online haven’t changed much since 2012.

When it comes to using features and functionality built into computing devices, people score relatively well. When respondents checked their settings, the survey found that 95 percent had antimalware software installed, 84 percent had their firewalls turned on and 82 percent had activated automatic updates.

The conundrum, by a large margin (60 percent), is that while people see themselves as best able to protect their information rather than relying on technology companies, government or others, the results reveal that they aren’t actively protecting themselves when it comes to the more daily digital routines. For instance:

· A mere one in five (21 percent) of those surveyed said they take advantage of Web browser filters to help protect against phishing attacks.

· Only 31 percent educated themselves about the latest steps for protecting their online reputation, or were selective about what they texted. Even fewer said they used technical tools to edit or delete information to help safeguard their reputations (19 percent), used search engines to monitor their personal information online (15 percent), or used a service to correct inaccuracies (10 percent).

· Only slightly more than one third (36 percent) said they limit the amount of personal information that appears online or educate themselves about the most current ways to help guard against identity theft (37 percent).

All too often, it’s these types of daily activities that often expose Internet users to more risk. For example, 15 percent of survey respondents said they had been victims of a phishing attack, 13 percent experienced damage to their professional reputation and 9 percent said their identity had been compromised.

Running into trouble online can be costly. According to those surveyed, recovering from a damaged online professional reputation was the most costly by far, with each individual losing an average of $535. Repairing identity theft cost victims an average of $218, while phishing attacks resulted in losses, on average, of $158 per person.

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These dollar amounts add up. The worldwide impact of phishing could be as high as $2.6 billion – and $2.4 billion for identity theft – with the cost of repairing damage to peoples’ professional reputations at nearly a whopping $4.5 billion.

There are numerous things we can all do to help protect ourselves online. But imagine how much safer we’d all be by starting with that “1 Thing.”

For more information about our work in Internet safety, visit our Safety & Security Center, “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and look for my “point of view” blog following the #MSFTCOSO hashtag.