Due to negligence, Internet users worldwide lost 23 billion in a year, according to the latest annual Microsoft Computer Security Index (MCSI), which the company released on the International Safer Internet Day. The index takes into account the data from more than 20 countries (Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Russia, Singapore, Spain, South Korea, Turkey, UK, and US). The survey was conducted from March to May 2013.
“The third annual survey revealed that users lost more than 5 billion dollars through phishing and other forms of online fraud and nearly 6 billion dollars due to damaged online reputation. In general, financial losses due to various net threats amounted to 23 billion dollars in a year,” Microsoft’s release reads.
The company claims that 15 percent of users were hit by phishing, losing on average 158 dollars. Another 13 percent of those polled stated they had their professional reputation compromised, forcing them spend on average 535 dollars to restore it. A further 9 percent suffered loss of personal data, costing them on average 218 dollars.
However, despite these figures, only 36 percent of users restrict access of strangers to their personal information on social networks, while just 33 percent use a PIN-code on their devices. “This means that most users do not know what risks are awaiting them on the web and how to avoid them,” the index’s developers explained. According to the survey, only 61 percent of Internet users believe that their online safety depends on them. Microsoft advised to avoid gullibility and use protective measures lest one be forced to try to recover the money lost later on.
“First of all, we recommend using only licensed software, for scheduled automatic updates of the operating system and anti-virus provide continuous protection against viruses and other threats. In addition, adherence to a few simple Internet safety rules will allow one to protect oneself, one’s family and business against fraud, infected software and other web threats,” the head of Microsoft Ukraine’s department for the protection of intellectual property Yurii Omelchenko said. In particular, one needs to come up with passwords that use both small and capital letters as well as numbers and symbols, use different passwords for different websites, especially those storing financial information. It is advisable not to carry out financial transactions via an insecure network connection or Wi-Fi in public areas. Before one enters sensitive information, one needs to pay attention to the page address which must contain a secure https protocol and an icon of a closed lock. The expert advised taking care of one’s online reputation, including keeping track of information, photographs and comments that one posts on the web or other users post if it concerns one. It is also advised to restrict access of strangers to one’s pages on the web and personal data in social networks, as well as be careful about accepting “friends” whom one does not know in real life.