Friday, February 8, 2013

Microsoft Urges Malaysians To Improve Online Habits To Protect Themselves

84% Malaysians face risk, yet only 23% take proactive steps to help protect themselves online;

KUALA LUMPUR, 6 February 2013 – In conjunction with international Safer Internet Day, Microsoft released the results of its second annual Microsoft Computing Safety Index (MCSI), a survey sponsored by Microsoft that measures how much computer and device users are doing to protect themselves online. The report reveals that while 84 percent of Malaysians face multiple online risks, only 23 percent say they take proactive steps to help protect themselves and their data. This year the MCSI also examined mobile safety behaviors, uncovering that only 33 percent run regular updates on their mobile devices, potentially compounding their risk.

“Consumers today are transitioning into a more mobile and seamless lifestyle. Gone are the days when a single PC was all that was needed to get your work done. Today, a single consumer can have multiple devices with different form factors and operating systems; from a laptop, to a tablet, to one or even two mobile phones! The amount of information that gets transferred from one device to another is taken for granted, and therein lies the problem. Malaysians as a whole are pretty aware of online risks, but only a fraction take preventive measures to protect themselves, as highlighted by the recent MCSI,” said Dr. Dzahar Mansor, National Technology Officer, Microsoft Malaysia.

Dr. Dzahar Mansor, National Technology Officer, Microsoft Malaysia.

Theft of passwords or account information was cited as a concern by Malaysians, with 46% saying they use secure websites and 39 percent saying they avoid using open Wi-Fi hotspots on their mobile devices. “Personal information is a valuable commodity to criminals and, just like your home computer, your mobile device is equally attractive to hackers.  You can help protect your data by ensuring updates are consistently installed, locking your mobile device with a password or PIN, and being cautious when using open wireless networks,” added Dr. Dzahar, who stressed the importance of being aware of mobile threats as well as taking the best preventive measures to protect oneself.

Other key findings from the MCSI include the following:
Fifty-five percent of Malaysians educate themselves on preventing identity theft, with fifty-one percent of Malaysians worry about theft of password or account information
Thirty-three percent of Malaysians said they worry about computer viruses and leave on their firewalls
Only twenty-five percent of Malaysians said they worry about having their identity stolen

At a recent joint event with Microsoft, Razman Azrai Zainuddin, Vice President of Industry Development, CyberSecurity Malaysia revealed that the total incidents reported to its Cyber999 hotline - a service provided for Malaysians to report computer security incidents – was 9,155 cases from January to November 2012, amounting to a cumulative average growth rate (CAGR) of more than 200 percent over the past three years. Of these reported incidents, the bulk of it were intrusion (at 3,924) and fraud (at 3,676) incidents.

Microsoft offers a range of online safety tools and resources at, including the following practical steps consumers can take to stay safer online:
Lock your computer and accounts with strong passwords and your mobile phone with a unique, four-digit PIN.
Do not pay bills, bank, shop or conduct other sensitive business on a public computer, or on your laptop or mobile phone over “borrowed” or public Wi-Fi (such as a hotspot).
Watch for snoops. People scouting for passwords, PINs, user names or other such data may be watching your fingers or the screen as you enter that data.
Treat suspicious messages cautiously. Avoid offers too good to be true and be wary of their senders, even if the messages appear to come from a trusted source.
Look for signs that a Web page is secure and legitimate. Before you enter sensitive data, check for evidence of encryption (e.g., a Web address with “https” and a closed padlock beside it or in the lower right corner of the window).
Reduce spam in your inbox. Share your primary email address and instant messaging name only with people you know or with reputable organizations. Avoid listing them on your social network page, in Internet directories (such as white pages) or on job-posting sites.

Besides inculcating better online habits, Malaysians should also ensure that they are using genuine software on their devices, “Using a PC with counterfeit software is like moving into a high-crime neighborhood and leaving your doors open—it’s incredibly risky. People with counterfeit software have no guarantee that their sensitive data, activities and communications will be safe from cybercriminals that intend to do harm,” said Dr. Dzahar.

The MCSI surveyed more than 10,000 PC, smartphone and tablet users across the most popular platforms in 20 countries and regions about their personal approach to online safety and assigned a point scale of 0 to 100 based on their answers. The global average score was 34 for PC online safety and 40 for mobile. An abbreviated version of the MCSI is available at Microsoft Computing Safety Index Survey for people to check how savvy they are when it comes to online safety.

Countries surveyed in the MCSI were Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Russia, Singapore, Spain, South Korea, Turkey, the U.K. and the U.S.

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