Microsoft Security Blog

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Technology and especially Internet-connected devices and applications are a part of many of our lives today, from smartphones and tablets using cellular networks to Wi-Fi availability throughout the world. Applications are moving from being stand-alone to hosted in the Cloud and systems are being connected together to make it easy to share information.

As we adopt these technologies, there are increasing challenges of maintaining security, privacy and reliability of the products, services and devices we use. Whether that means making choices about the places we work and services we use based on their policies towards technology, or by what we do online and where by the risks associated with them.

The Microsoft “Trust in Computing” research was conducted in nine countries around the world. Questions were asked on the Internet, devices, security, privacy, reliability, Cybersecurity representing use, experiences and perceptions.

Key findings

Computing is Part of the Fabric of Society

The Bill Gates’ TwC Memo made a prediction regarding the future importance of computing, “Computing is already an important part of many people's lives. Within 10 years, it will be an integral and indispensable part of almost everything we do,” which we are now experiencing as a reality in our day-to-day lives.

Modern computing – in contrast to the PC-centric days of 2002 – features computing devices in many different form factors and capabilities.

According to a Boston Consulting Group report, the number of Internet-connected devices is predicted to exceed 15 billion—twice the world's population – by 2015, and to soar to 50 billion devices by 2020. “Devices” of course refers to more than smart phones, netbooks and tablets. It also systems such as smart grids, intelligent transportation, healthcare monitoring, smart manufacturing, and environmental sensors.

The Trust in Computing survey reflects how people are adopting new devices.

  • 71.5 percent of respondents use a smartphone for personal use
  • 44.9 percent of respondents use a tablet computer

Additionally, Cloud services are tied closely to all of these devices for home users, and for organizations as well.

  • 59.4 percent of respondents frequently use Social networks
  • 53.8 percent of respondents view online search as a critical online service for their business

Nature of Online Threats has changed.

There are new forms of data (e.g., user created data on social networking sites, GPS data) and new centralized abilities to store, aggregate, search for, analyze and disseminate that data. The ability now exists not only to build a historical trail of a person’s activities, but to predict their future behaviors in new and interesting ways

  • 59.1 percent of respondents are very concerned with where their data is located.
  • 71.5 percent of respondents are concerned about their Government having access to their location information

The “Consumerization of IT” – which refers to a consumer’s desire to pick his or her own IT devices and then have that single device span their professional and personal lives – conflates, or perhaps even obliterates, the line between two historically separate worlds managed by different entities.

  • 66.9 percent of respondents would prefer to use their own devices in the workplace
  • 52.9 percent of respondents are allowed to use their own devices in the workplace, with 20.2 percent being subsidized by the organization to do so.

Governments around the world Evolving Relationship with the Internet

A government’s “relationship” with the Internet is actually a complex one, as governments are users, protectors and exploiters of the Internet.

As a user of the Internet, governments are looking for ways to interact with their citizens,with some governments are issuing digital identities to help ensure trust online.

  • 46.9 percent of respondents would use a Goverment issued Digital Identity for access to Government sites
  • 46.2 percent of respondents would use the Digital Identity for access to online banking

As a protector, governments are looking at ways to combat cybersecurity issues and enhance privacy in many cases through education, policy and regulation.

  • 92.5 percent of respondents believe cybercrime laws need updating

As an exploiter, governments are looking for ways to leverage the internet for economic or military advantage.

  • 80.4 percent of respondents think their government should leverage the internet for economic advantage over foreign nations

The information contained above represents a sample of the findings from the Trust in Computing survey. The survey was designed to help us understand more fully what people are using computing for, the devices they use, their perceptions and experiences from around the world.

Over the next few months, we will be using the Microsoft Security blog to highlight our findings and provide more in-depth discussion.