January 29, 2009

Searching For Greater Internet Security

New research finds that computer users want to protect their privacy online, but have no idea how to do so. The announcement coincides with Data Privacy Day, designated by the Council of Europe.

January 28, 2009, is devoted to focusing on computer privacy and protection issues.

Microsoft, Intel, and MySpace took part in events aimed at promoting awareness of Internet privacy risks and what people can do to protect online data.

"In a way, personal information has become the new currency of crime," said Microsoft director of privacy strategy Brendon Lynch.

"The Internet is really transforming society in a number of great ways. It has also become a target of cyber-criminals and they are trying to get people's personal information."

Lynch said that focus groups in US cities found, "resignation that once information is out on the Internet it is out there forever and they don't have control of how it is used."

Researchers found that people trust security tools like spam filters and anti-virus software to protect information online even though they don't know how it works.

Lynch named the phenomenon the "placebo effect."

The focus groups were divided between three ages: 18 to 24 years old, parents and professionals in their middle 30s to 40s, and Baby Boomers ages 60 or older.

"An interesting finding was there were more similarities than differences among the generations," Lynch said.

Focus group members in all age categories said they wanted shared responsibility for online safety.

"People want to take responsibility, but they want a little help," said Microsoft chief privacy strategist Peter Cullen.

Earning the trust of computer users is considered vital to the success of Internet firms and online commerce.

"This is a kind of investment portfolio that all the major stake holders have to think about continually contributing to," according to Cullen.

Microsoft is among the technology firms working on software to make passwords and files more difficult to hack.


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