Photo - Dr Dzahar Mansor, National Technology Officer, Microsoft Malaysia
The second annual Microsoft Computing Safety Index (MCSI) survey shows that 84 percent of Malaysians face online risks but only 23 percent take steps to protect themselves, said technology solutions giant Microsoft.
Microsoft Malaysia national technology officer Dr Dzahar Mansor said Malaysians' online behaviours also showed 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," said Dr Dzahar. "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 takes preventive measures to protect themselves, as highlighted by the recent MCSI," he said, adding that theft of passwords and other account information was a concern to Malaysians. "Forty-six (46) percent said 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," said Dr Dzahar. "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."
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 zero to 100 based on their answers. The global average score was 34 for PC online safety and 40 for mobile.
CyberSecurity Malaysia reported incidents
Dr Dzahar said the survey also found that 55 percent of Malaysians educate themselves on preventing identity theft, with 51 percent of Malaysians worrying about theft of password or account information. "Thirty-three percent of Malaysians said they worry about computer viruses and keep their firewalls switched on while only 25 percent of Malaysians said they worry about having their identity stolen."
During a recent Microsoft event, the national security agency CyberSecurity Malaysia's vice president of industry development, Razman Azrai Zainuddin, said the total number of 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.
As well as adopting better online habits, Malaysians should also ensure that they are using genuine software on their device, said Microsoft's Dzahar. "Using a PC with counterfeit software is like moving into a high-crime neighbourhood 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 cyber criminals that intend to do harm."
He added that Microsoft provided a suite of online safety tools and resources on its website and also advised the following steps:
- 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 organisations. Avoid listing them on your social network page, in Internet directories (such as white pages) or on job-posting sites.
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