(BPT) - It's no coincidence that Microsoft chose to launch Windows 8 in late October - just weeks before Black Friday and the holiday shopping season. Nearly 60 percent of shoppers intend to hit stores in December, when dozens of new PCs, laptops and tablets loaded with Windows 8 will be available.
If you plan to pick up a new Windows 8 device this year, make sure you take the time to secure your investment. The 2012 Norton Cybercrime Report found cybercrime is on the rise - with 71 million Americans falling victim in the last year - and even Windows 8 will leave you vulnerable.
'When consumers rush to adopt the latest high-tech gadget, security is often an afterthought. It's important to secure your device to protect your investment as well as your personal data,' says Marian Merritt, Internet safety advocate with Norton by Symantec.
Here are six easy tips for protecting your Windows 8 device:
1. Commit to security from the start. Take time to password protect your new device, connect to a secure Wi-Fi network and register it. Some companies offer services, like NortonLive PC Quick Start, that will get your new machine up and running safely and easily.
2. Choose apps carefully. Not all apps are created equal. Every app you download has some level of access to your private information, but some will use this information - and access to your device - in malicious ways. Before clicking 'Accept,' read the user agreement to learn if the manufacturer has rights you wouldn't want to allow, such as accessing a friend list from your social media profile.
Further protect yourself by only downloading apps from the official Windows Store. Fake websites can pretend to offer free versions of popular apps. In these cases, if you download the file, malware and fake screenshots will appear instead of the app.
3. Secure your password. Create complex and unique passwords for your apps, social network, email and bank accounts, and don't share your passwords with anyone. This helps protect sensitive data and private information. If possible, sync accounts to more than one email address. This gives you another way to recover account information if your device is ever lost or stolen, or if your accounts are hacked.
4. Beware of unknown links. Dangerous phishing efforts are on the rise, leaving social network users vulnerable. Techniques like click-jacking trick users into clicking on malicious content, which could reveal confidential information about the person or allow hackers to take control of the device. Often they spread by infecting one account and posting links to dangerous websites with phrases like 'Funniest video ever!' Beware of suspicious posts from friends that seem out of character and don't click on them.
5. Be wary of unsecured or unknown websites. Cybercriminals have been known to set up fraudulent websites that seem to offer great deals when in fact they are merely traps hoping to entice unwitting consumers to enter their personal payment details. When shopping online, use reputable outlets and make sure that any transactions you make only take place across secure pages - this is usually denoted by a padlock sign in your browser address bar.
6. Choose a security product. Windows Defender - Microsoft's free security solution - provides basic protection, similar to Windows XP and Windows 7. While a good first step, Defender has its shortcomings. For example, it only works on Internet Explorer. This means that your activities on other browsers like Chrome and Firefox are left unprotected. Even Microsoft recommends adding security software to Windows 8 in order to protect against attacks and other threats.
To protect your device, choose a security product that bridges gaps present in the current Windows 8 operating system. Products like Norton 360 Multi-Device are a good option because they are designed to protect multiple devices - such as tablets, mobile phones and PCs - with one single solution.