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2013 Microsoft Computing Safety Index

2013 Microsoft Computing Safety Index

The Microsoft Computing Safety Index (MCSI), first released in 2011 by the Trustworthy Computing group, is an annual measure of the actions (or steps) that consumers take to help keep themselves and their families safe online based on self-reports of their own experience. (In 2013, more than 10,000 adults over the age of 18 from 20 countries and regions 1 around the globe participated in the survey.)

The Index consists of nearly two dozen protective steps—they vary from year to year as devices evolve and online issues change—organized into three categories:

  • Foundational: five basic protections like leaving the computer’s firewall turned on and running automatic software updates.

  • Technical: twelve technology tools that include limiting what others can see on social sites, and locking mobile devices with a PIN or password.

  • Behavioral: seven protective behaviors, from using unique passwords for each account or website to educating oneself about the latest ways to protect one’s online reputation.

The more steps respondents report taking, the higher their Index score, with 100 being the highest rating. In 2013, the average score was 34.6.

People scored relatively well on the foundational protections that are built into computing devices by technology companies. When respondents checked their settings, the survey found that 95 percent had antimalware software installed and 84 percent had the firewall turned on.

However, by a large margin (60 percent), people see themselves as best able to protect their information rather than relying on technology companies, government, and others. But that doesn’t seem to be happening.

  • Only one in five (21 percent) of those surveyed took advantage of web browser filters that help protect against phishing.

  • Only 31 percent educated themselves about the latest steps for protecting their online reputation or were selective about what they texted.

  • Only slightly more than one-third said they limit the amount of personal information that appears online (36 percent).

The result? Fifteen percent of survey respondents said they had been victims of phishing attacks, 13 percent experienced damage to their professional reputation, and 9 percent said their identity had been compromised.

1 Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States

Running into trouble online can be costly. The worldwide impact of phishing could be as high as 2.4 billion USD, recovering from identity theft totals 2.6 billion USD, and repairing peoples’ professional reputations costs nearly 4.5 billion USD.

Microsoft Computing Safety Index graph

Download the 2013 MCSI infographic (PDF).

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