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Microsoft releases its latest Computing Safety Index report

As part of its celebration of Safer Internet Day 2014, Microsoft just put out its latest Computing Safety Index report, which compiles and assesses loads of data related to Internet-based threats, including how much certain dangers have cost users in terms of monetary damages, what users are doing (or aren’t doing) to protect themselves from such threats, and more.

If there’s one thing that the data compiled in the report reveals though, it’s that a lot of people still have quite a bit to learn when it comes to securing themselves from online threats.

Microsoft surveyed over 10,000 people ages 18 and up scattered all over the world, including the U.S., China, Russia, Mexico, Brazil, France, Germany and other places. What the report concludes is startling.

For example, only 36 percent of respondents indicated that they limited the amount of personal information about them that appears on the Internet, and only 37 percent made an effort to educate themselves about the most up-to-date ways to protect themselves against identity theft. On top of that, only 21 percent of respondents used Web browser filters that guarded against phishing attempts.

As a result, 15 percent of respondents indicated that they or someone they knew were victims of phishing attacks, while 13 percent suffered from damage to their professional reputation, and 9 percent indicated that their identity was somehow compromised. In the end, $2.6 billion was lost as a result of identity theft, $2.4 billion to phishing, and $4.5 billion as a result of professional reputation damage. There were other threats that did plenty of damage, but those were the three of the biggest numbers. Needless to say, the figures are staggering.

Not all hope is lost though. 95 percent of respondents indicated that they had anti-malware software installed, while 84 percent stated that they had a firewall. 82 percent of participants  had automatic updates enabled.

However, it’s unclear how many of these people had all three of these enabled/activated simultaneously. I know I do, and my ID theft and banking fraud incidents have occurred only once in a blue moon; roughly one instance every 3-4 years.

Though self-education about how to protect oneself from threats when doing whatever you’re doing on the Internet can go a long way towards helping you secure your data, ID, professional reputation and more, if you at least adopt the three-pronged approach of enabling auto-updates, having a firewall and anti-malware installed, you at least give yourself a pretty good chance of staying safe even if you don’t make the effort to get up to speed on the latest and biggest threats, and how to best safeguard yourself from them.

Microsoft also recommends that you leave your firewall on, use auto-updates, unique passwords for every single one of your accounts, and more. You can read the full PDF here.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments below.

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