There's a new article and interview up on Microsoft PressPass with my friend and fellow Canuck Peter Cullen from Microsoft on Data Privacy Day & online privacy. (Also available at http://tinyurl.com/pcullen013009.)  The kids are in school today… did I miss a bank holiday somewhere?

When asked about some of the recent research on the concept of online privacy and the threats to online consumer safety, Peter had this to say…

"One big thing was that, while many consumers are very concerned about protecting online privacy, they typically have only a surface understanding of the threats they face. People take basic steps such as using spam filters, deleting cookies and installing anti-virus software, but they’re not necessarily aware of what these technologies do.

"People also have a perception that once their information is online, there isn’t much they can do to protect it. Many people aren’t aware of the controls they have, such as the ability to opt out of behaviorally targeted advertising or new tools in Internet browsers.

"In addition, specific concerns and risks change depending on how people use the Internet. For example, threats to privacy stemming from social networking sites are a large concern for young people and, increasingly, middle-aged professionals. Online finance issues, meanwhile, may affect older people more.

"What these findings tell us is that we must do more to educate consumers. People are making privacy decisions all the time and may not even know it. They must have the right resources from industry, government and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), so they can better educate themselves about privacy, threats to personal information and ways to safely navigate online. Much like a medical condition: consumers need to understand how the illness occurs, instead of just what medicine to take."

Back in 2007, Microsoft commissioned a survey to find out more about consumers’ awareness of online fraud and how to avoid being scammed and found that…

  • Nearly one out of five surveyed has been a victim of at least one Internet scam.
  • Of those people, 81 percent admitted they did something that led to the crime, such as opening an e-mail that appeared to be from a legitimate person or company.
  • Over half of respondents (58 percent) admitted they had little to no knowledge of current online threats and scams.

Pretty amazing results.

As noted in my post on Cybersafety and staying safe online, I recall from this article in the Seattle Times on cybersafety which included six tips for staying safe online:

  1. Protect your privacy and personal information
  2. Be alert online
  3. Delete junk e-mail
  4. Use strong passwords
  5. Use antivirus software and a firewall
  6. Be smart about downloading

Additional information:

As noted in the article, "Microsoft commissioned focus group research to determine which privacy issues are most important to consumers. The findings were captured in a short documentary that will be screened prior to the panel to inform the discussion. The video is available on Microsoft’s Data Privacy Day Web Site (http://microsoft.com/dataprivacyday)."

[Added 3:37PM] To answer my friend, Charles', question…

"The 43% increase [cited in the article] in malware removed in the first 1/2 CY 08 - is that number collected from MSFT apps like Defender & services like OneCare or an industry number?"

This is from the Microsoft Security Intelligence Report volume 5 (covering the first half of calendar2008) and is available here for download from microsoft.com

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