Six Ways to Protect Yourself from Online Threats

Hackers

To help better illustrate the importance of online safety and security, Microsoft recently released the results of its 2013 Microsoft Computer Safety Index study. The survey tracked safety behavior of nearly 10,500 people worldwide to get a handle on just how costly these digital threats can be, and to make recommendations on how to better protect against online danger. The bottom line: An estimated $23 billion was lost last year to online risks such as phishing, ID theft, viruses, data leaks and more. The biggest cost – and arguably, the biggest threat – was damage to professional reputation to the tune of $4.5 billion yearly. Don’t let the bad guys take their cut from your personal bank account. Here are 6 steps you can take to better protect yourself from danger. 1. Take Charge of Your Online Reputation How, exactly, can damage to your online reputation be so costly? Ask Anthony Weiner, the former New York congressman whose bid for NYC mayor was sunk by compromising selfies he texted to women. In all seriousness, Microsoft survey data reveals that the median amount respondents paid out to repair their professional reputation was $2,600. Naturally, the best way to protect your reputation is to watch what you say online and put your best foot forward. If you need a little bit of help, check out these tools for protecting your online reputation. You might also want to consider using a reputation-monitoring service like Persona. 2. Defend your Devices Think about all the sensitive information stored on your mobile phone. Some people store private contacts. Others keep online banking data on our phones or use their phones as mobile wallets. A small percentage of Americans even have naked selfies saved. But while there’s plenty to be stolen on our phones, Microsoft’s survey reveals that only 33% use a PIN to lock our mobile devices. Even fewer of us (21%) use mobile security apps. That suggests a lot of sensitive data is at risk should a snoop decide to play around with our phones.

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