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2012 Microsoft Computing Safety Index

2012 Microsoft Computing Safety Index

The Microsoft Computing Safety Index (MCSI) is a tiered scoring system developed in a 2011 study sponsored by the Trustworthy Computing group. The survey contains more than 20 steps consumers can take to help protect themselves online. The more steps they report taking, the higher their online safety score; 100 is the highest rating possible.

The 2012 Global MCSI

Conducted in 20 countries/regions, the second annual MCSI included Africa and Asia. The 2012 average global score was 34— the same as the 2011 Index results. The results indicated that despite greater awareness of Internet risks and an increased focus on privacy, consumers have maintained the same online safety habits and still have room to improve their proactive, protective measures.

The MCSI tallies points for basic and advanced computer security behaviors such as:

  • Using a newer operating system

  • Updating antivirus and antispyware software regularly

  • Using automatic updates

View the Microsoft Computing Safety Index panel discussion (video).

Download the Protect as you connect infographic (PDF).

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Note: For details on how to interpret Index results, see a list of the executive summaries in the Read the results section below.

The Mobile MCSI

Newly added to the 2012 study, a mobile component—the Mobile MCSI—focused on understanding what actions consumers took to specifically protect themselves while using mobile devices such as smartphones, laptops, and tablets. The average worldwide 2012 Mobile MCSI score was 40, which indicates that while consumers are aware of ways they can protect themselves they are neglecting to take simple steps like installing updates and avoiding open Wi-Fi.

The Mobile MCSI tallies points for basic and advanced mobile device security behaviors such as:

  • Using a PIN to lock your mobile device

  • Downloading/using apps from only trusted sources

  • Using location-based services selectively

Read the results

Download the MCSI 2012 Results Presentation (PPT)

Download the 2012 MCSI Executive Summary Worldwide (PDF)

Select an executive summary from a specific country/region:


Researchers recruited 10,620 adults age 18 and older, with samples reflecting the age and gender mix of those who go online in each of the 20 countries or regions.

2012 MCSI table

The 2012 survey consisted of 22 protective steps and the average global score was 34.3 out of a 100 possible points.

Mobile MCSI

A second Index measuring mobile behaviors, the Microsoft Mobile Security Index (MMSI), was added in 2012. It was modeled as an addition to the original Index, and measured 14 protective behaviors when using mobile devices, which fall in the same three categories as the original. The mobile Index yielded an average score of 40 out of the 100 points.

  • Foundational precautions included installing mobile antivirus software and keeping it up to date, installing software updates on mobile devices as soon as they are released, and using a PIN or password to lock the device.

  • Technical tools included managing location capabilities, including setting location tracking capabilities, being selective about sharing information, and reviewing location and privacy settings in social media accounts; avoiding the use of public, unsecured Wi-Fi connections; and downloading apps only from trusted sources.

  • Behavioral steps included being selective about what to text, who to text, and who to give a personal phone number to; and avoiding clicking dubious links or ads.

Online safety resources

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