BY EMEKA AGINAM
Following the latest results of the third annual Microsoft Computing Safer Index (MCSI), revealing impact of poor online safety behaviors, the software giant, Microsoft has asked internet consumers to stay safer online.
In staying safer by interacting on Microsoft website, users around the world according to the organisation, can share how they plan to avoid online risks, learn what other people are doing to help protect themselves, and receive instant tips to enhance their digital lifestyle.
“The Internet touches our lives every day; we email to stay connected, share photos and videos, pay bills, and shop,” Jacqueline Beauchere, chief online safety officer, Microsoft, said, adding that, “Sometimes, though, the very experiences that we love about the Internet put us at risk.”
In Africa, this risk is growing fast, Marius Haman, Anti-Piracy, Legal & Corporate Affairs lawyer for Microsoft Middle East & Africa, said.
“Sub-Saharan Africa is home to one of the world’s fastest growing internet populations, which means more and more people are accessing the internet for the first time, providing a large and unsuspecting base of targets to cybercriminals. Combine this with the lack of strong cybercrime laws and high piracy rate on the continent and its clear why we’re seeing more and more people fall victim to attacks”, Haman, explained.
According to the MCSI survey, the annual worldwide impact of phishing and various forms of identity theft could be as high as $5 billion, with the cost of repairing damage to peoples’ online reputation higher yet at nearly $6 billion, or an estimated average of $632 per loss. This means that education and guidance about how to avoid online risks remain key and is why Microsoft is asking people to “Do 1 Thing” today and make it part of their daily digital routine.
Of the more than 10,000 consumers surveyed, 15 percent said they were victims of a phishing attack, losing on average $158 while 13 percent said their professional reputation had been compromised, costing on average $535 to repair. Also 9 percent said they had suffered identity theft at an average cost of $218.
Yet despite such losses, only 36 percent said they limit what strangers see on social networks and the amount of personal information online, while 33 percent said they adjust their social network privacy settings. And, only 33 percent use a PIN (personal identification number) or password to lock their mobile device. [subs see table for local data]
“There are many things you can do to stay safer online. If we all do just one thing, imagine how much safer we all will be, together,” Beauchere said. “Go to our website to share your one thing. Tell the world that you’re committed to helping keep the Internet safer and more secure. And once you do, you’ll be part of that positive change.”