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Aussie consumers more proactive with cyber safety than US: Index

Australian consumers take more cyber safety precautions than their American counterparts according to a new study.

The Microsoft Computing Safety Index was conducted by TNS Global with 10,000 PC, smartphone and tablet users in 20 countries about their personal approach to online safety during 2012.

The Index found that over half of Australian participants indicated that they take proactive steps to stay safe online. This is compared to only 19 per cent of US participants.

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Australia scored 39 out of a possible 100 points in the Index which compared favourably with users in Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Singapore and the United Kingdom. These are other countries which the study found had taken "foundational, technical, and behavioural steps" to cyber security.

"Overall, Australians tend to experience fewer problems but nevertheless remain vigilant about the dangers they may encounter online," a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement.

In addition, the vendor added a mobile component to this year's study in order to understand consumer adoption of online tools on smartphones and tablets. The Australia 2012 score in the mobile section of the Index was 42 out of 100 points which, according to Microsoft, showed a good understanding of mobile cyber safety.

Global findings from the survey found that theft of password or account information was cited as a concern by 47 per cent of respondents. According to the results, 33 per cent of participants indicated that they use secure websites and 28 per cent avoided the use of open Wi-Fi spots on their mobile devices.

Forty eight per cent of respondents admitted that they worry about computer viruses but only 44 per cent left on firewalls while 53 per cent indicated that they installed antivirus software on their PCs.

Forty-five percent of those surveyed said they worried about identity theft. However, only 34 per cent of Index participants use a PIN to unlock their mobile device.

Consumers from Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Russia, Singapore, Spain, South Korea, Turkey, the UK and the United States took part in the Index.

The study was released to coincide with Safer Internet Day. This international day is designed to raise awareness of online rights and responsibilities.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU, or take part in the Computerworld conversation on LinkedIn: Computerworld Australia

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