Get Safer Online – at Home and on the Go – on Safer Internet Day

Typically, when leave our homes, we lock our doors. We take this simple and, perhaps, habitual step to help protect our families and our belongings. Yet, when we go online, we don’t always take the same precautions with our personal information.

Today, on Safer Internet Day (SID), we want to remind consumers the world over to promote responsible use of the Internet and mobile technology. Organized by Brussels-based Insafe and co-founded by the European Union, this year marks the tenth celebration of SID and, once again, Microsoft is playing an active role. 

We’ve released results of our second annual Microsoft Computing Safety Index (MCSI), a survey of consumer online safety behaviors in 20 countries. This year, we added a mobile component to the study, enabling comparisons between people’s PC and mobile practices.

The MCSI average across all countries found that more than half (55 percent) of respondents are experiencing multiple online risks, yet only 16 percent say they are taking multiple steps to proactively protect themselves and their data. As for mobile, just more than one-quarter (28 percent) said they run regular updates on their mobile devices, compared to 42 percent who said they regularly update their PC software. Inattention to basic device health and maintenance has the ability to further compound an individual’s online risk.

All of Microsoft’s advice and guidance about staying safer online starts with four basic steps:

• Turning the firewall “on” and leaving it “on;” (know that there is no legitimate reason to ever turn the firewall “off”)
• Installing and keeping current antivirus software
• Installing and maintaining antispyware software
• Turning “on” and always using automatic updates

These are, in effect, the “Foundational” components of the MCSI. They are essential not only to individual online security, but they also play an important role in the health of the overall technology ecosystem. To borrow a concept from one of our partner organizations, National Cyber Security Alliance and its signature awareness campaign STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™ (STC), if individuals do their part to help safeguard their own devices, they will not only better protect themselves and their families, but they will be assisting in the protection of the wider digital world. Thus, “Safer for me; more secure for all.”     

Under the banner of this year’s SID theme, “Connect with Respect,” Microsoft is asking everyone to take stock of their online habits to ensure they are as protected as possible when going online. Consumers can see where they rank in an abbreviated version of the Microsoft Computing Safety Index Survey and parents can encourage teens to take our “Safer Online Teen Challenge.”

The New Year and Safer Internet Day are the perfect time of year to get smarter about online safety. So, join the movement.  (See http://www.microsoft.com/security for all of our advice and guidance, and follow us on Twitter www.twitter.com/Safer_Online and Facebook www.facebook.com/SaferOnline.)

About the Author

Chief Online Safety Officer, Microsoft

Jacqueline F. Beauchere is the Chief Online Safety Officer at Microsoft. In this role, Ms. Beauchere is responsible for all aspects of Microsoft’s online safety strategy, including cross-company policy creation and implementation, influence over consumer safety features and functionality and communications to and engagement with a variety of external audiences. She also currently serves as the vice chair for the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) Board of Directors. Ms. Beauchere has spent almost 14 years at Microsoft leading various groups and efforts that evangelize the company's commitment to help create a safer, more trusted Internet experience for people of all ages and abilities. Before joining Microsoft in December 1999, Ms. Beauchere was an attorney in private practice in New Jersey, New York and Washington, D.C. A second-career lawyer, she spent 12 years as a real-time financial news correspondent and Editor in Charge, most recently with Reuters America Inc. in New York.