Microsoft this week teamed up with Prevx and Get Safe Online to demonstrate the real-life, online scams that criminals use to steal from PC users. Their message was simple: secure your PC, and do it today.

Criminals don't care how much money you earn, where you live or even what operating system you use - if you're online, you're fair game. That was the message this week from Microsoft's chief security advisor in the UK, Ed Gibson.

Former FBI agent Gibson was speaking at a Microsoft event in the heart of London's west end. Microsoft teamed up with Prevx and Get Safe Online to demonstrate the speed and ease with which criminals can target poorly protected PCs and networks.

Prevx's ethical hacker Jacques Erasmus successfully attempted, live, two 'key scams' that cybercriminals use on a daily basis to liberate money from individuals and businesses. And the message was clear: security starts at home, and a layered approach is no longer simply desirable - it's required.

Microsoft said it believes the solution to online fraud won't be found by any one business, organisation or even operating system. According to the company, cybercrime will be curtailed only when the IT industry, law-enforcement and - crucially - users take the necessary and simple steps to make crime not pay.

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Web-based commerce in the UK is now a £30bn industry. But according to Get Safe Online's Tony Neate, where there's money, there's crime.

Neate, who was a police detective for 30 years, estimates that £875 per person, per year is lost to fraud. And in many cases, the loss is preventable. For instance - 40 percent of businesses protect only 25 percent of their network traffic, making them a sitting duck for the kind of crimes we saw demonstrated.

As Tony Neate says: it's actually easy to be safe online. Indeed, Ed Gibson estimates that 10 minutes of work can lead to 10 months of security. And the hacks that Erasmus demonstrated left nobody present in any doubt that the time to act is now.

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