In an attempt to promote online safety and security, Microsoft have published the finding of its “2013 Microsoft Computer Safety Index Study.” The study tracked the safety and security behaviour of 10,500 people around the world in order to find out precisely how costly digital security threats can be, and to help individuals to protect their computers from online threats.
The study revealed that $23 billion is lost every year to online security threats, including ID theft, data leaks, viruses, phishing scams and more. Of the $23 billion, $4.5 billion came from “damage to professional reputations.”
Thankfully, Microsoft also shared some valuable tips on how to protect your computer from online threats. Here’s a look at the most important tips.
How to Protect Your Computer from Online Threats 1: Your Reputation
Damage to your online reputation can be extremely costly. Take former New York congressman Anthony Weiner, for example, whose bid to become mayor of NYC was ruined by some comprising “Selfies” he had texted to women.
According to Microsoft, the median amount that individuals pay in order to repair their reputation is $2,600. The best way to protect yourself from this threat is by being diligent: monitoring your online behaviour and being well behaved online. You could also make use of a reputation-monitoring service such as Persona.
Protecting Your Computer from Online Threats Step 2: Defence
When you think about it, the amount of information you store on your computer and mobile deviceis terrifying. There’s your mobile phone number, your banking details, personal information, perhaps business information. . . some people even have naked selfies on there.
Microsoft’s survey states that only 33% of people protect their mobile device with a PIN, while 21% use security apps. In other words, a lot of sensitive information is going unprotected.
Thankfully, protecting your mobile device requires minimal financial investment.
How To Protect Your Computer from Online Threats 3: Password
You can go a long way towards properly protecting yourself and your data by simply creating strong passwords. Every account we have asks us to create a unique and strong password, yet many people rush, creating such easy-to-hack passwords as “1234” or “ABCD.” And then they wonder how they got hacked. . . .
There’s really very little reason not to create a strong password. It costs nothing and can be done in seconds. Microsoft advises individuals to create passwords that are “unique, long and strong. Keep your passwords private, too, and consider using a password manager like iCloud Keychain for iOS7.
How to Protect Your Computer from Online Threats 4: Social Network Security
Social media sites want us to share absolutely every aspect of our entire existence, and many people do precisely that without even batting an eyelid. While sharing your info might be amazing for advertisers, it’s dangerous for individuals. Imagine what might happen if someone hacked your Facebook account, or if a unscrupulous individual was monitoring your tags in order to determine when you left the house alone and unguarded.
Being safe on social media basically means monitoring your private info. Do you really some stranger knowing your house is empty, or that you’re walking alone in the park tonight? Didn’t think so.
How to Protect Your Computer from Online Threats 5: Children
Of course it goes without saying that if you have children you need to be especially diligent of their online behaviour. Play online with your kids and use the time as an opportunity to learn about their online behaviour. Remind them not to share their personal info, and be mindful of who they are talking to.
How to Protect Your Computer from Online Threats 6: Sensitive Info
If you are involved in online stock trading or online banking, you need to exercise extra caution. Do not, for instance, access your online bank account via public access Wi-Fi, which are highly unsecure. Only ever access your online accounts by typing the URL and all data in yourself, rather than following an email link, for instance. And always make sure that transactions are encrypted.
Perhaps the most important part of online security is mindfulness. It can be easy to just do things online without thinking about it, to share information on Facebook, to access our bank accounts, to start talking to people we don’t know, without bothering to ask the simple question “Am I safe doing this?” Aim to be more aware of your own online actions and you will go a long way in protecting yourself from online threats.