The third makeITsecure initiative was launched in Dublin and Belfast yesterday. The initiative is designed to provide advice, guidance and support on how to stay safe online: from keeping your PC safe, to keeping your children safe online, to avoiding phishing scams etc.

There's loads of great advice on the makeITsecure site and we've posted a lot of great advice and resources on the Microsoft Ireland web site.

In related news, the latest report from the Microsoft Malware Protection Centre which is part of Microsoft's European Development Centre in Dublin, found that there were over 166,000 malware attacks on Irish computer users (detected by Windows Defender) - an increase of 44% - during the first six months of 2007.

"The Microsoft Security Intelligence Report predicts that 2008 will see an increase in e-mail and instant messaging-related fraud as well as electronic greeting card scams. It’s also expected that criminals will try and capitalize on major events such as this year’s Olympics and the US Presidential Election. In global terms, e-mail and instant messaging fraud increased by 27% and 37% respectively in the first half of 2007 with predictions of a continued increase in 2008.

One of the biggest growth areas for online threats is Electronic Greeting Card Scams, which already account for close to one in a dozen of infected e-mail messages. These are online cards sent via e-mail, which typically have a subject line such as "You've received a greeting from a family member." When you click the subject line, malicious software may be installed on your computer.”

The other area that will see an increase is social engineering attacks, where techniques are used to manipulate people into performing actions or divulging confidential information. These frequently involve e-mails that direct consumers to verify credit card or tax refunds through a phone number. The phone number turns out to be a computerised phone answering system that collects the information provided to use for fraudulent purposes. "

You can find out more on the report here.