Over the years, SYS3 have come across many misconceptions when it comes to using the Internet. Unfortunately, these ‘myths’ can cause serious security issues.
In the first of a 2-part Internet security guide, we have debunked the 10 most common ‘myths’ about Internet security.
Myth #1: “Nothing will happen to me. Only rich or important people are targets.”
If we had a pound for every time we heard that, we’d been in Tahiti rather than helping you lot. In most cases, we’ve found users who embrace this thinking simply don’t want to lose the time it takes to address vulnerabilities on their system. This is what we call: wishful thinking.
TRUTH: It’s not about how important you are, it’s never personal. Cybercriminals use automated tools to exploit systems and they’ll take anything they can get. As long as you have a digital identity, you’re a valuable target.
Myth #2: “If I install this security application, I’ll be fine.”
There is no magic bullet to solve all system security issues. It doesn’t exist, despite what security companies try to tell you. All too often we see people pay for a security program and believe that because it’s installed, they’re protected.
TRUTH: No security solution on the planet is bulletproof. They say 99.9% for a reason…
Myth #3: “I don’t need security software, I don’t access unsafe sites”
Outsmarting the attempts of a cybercriminal was easy 15 years ago. Now? It’s impossible. Many still believe common sense is enough to stay safe and if you’re thinking of spam and dodgy links you may be right. But they’re not the only dangers anymore and even safe sites are vulnerable.
TRUTH: You can access a safe, legitimate site and still get infected by simply hovering over an infected banner image. What’s worse…cybercriminals are becoming very patient and will stay hidden deliberately for days, months, even years before you know.
Myth #4: “I set a strong password on my account so I’ll be OK”
Don’t count on it. Yes, it’s strongly recommended that you set a strong, individual password. Don’t skip this step. But bare in mind that a strong password alone is not enough. Passwords should be unique. Don’t reuse them, especially online.
TOP TIP: Use 2FA (two-factor authentication). It’s an extra defence and very easy to use. Or use a password manager. SYS3 use LastPass and with autofill, we never have to even bother typing them, let alone remembering them all!
Myth #5: “Internet security is expensive”
Today, the majority of time is spent online one way or another. Socialising on social media, working online, shopping online, banking online…Internet access is not just for entertaining anymore. It’s integrated into our lives and essential.
We always hear about cases of stolen identity and financial fraud. What we don’t hear is that recovering from these attacks can take a very long time with no justice.
TRUTH: When you think about it, not having a proactive approach to internet security could actually be more expensive. Don’t take a chance online. It’s not that expensive!
Myth #6: “I only open emails from friends and family, so I’m safe”
A perfectly valid argument. Until you discover you’ve been tricked. Have you received a strange email from a friend or colleague? Your mother? It’s not hard to spoof an email so it appears from someone else. For someone less trained in spotting it, one click and you’re infected. Gone are the days of foreign Prince Charmings and poor spelling.
TRUTH: Clicking on links or downloading attachments you receive can easily install dangerous malware that remains hidden. Emails can look real enough to trick you into giving away very sensitive information. Don’t be so sure.
Myth #7: I only download and access information from trusted sources. This keeps me safe”
This is quite a hard myth to dispel. Another related misconception is “It’s on the Internet so it must be safe, otherwise it would have been taken down.” The reality is quite different.
TRUTH: Illegal websites can be launched overnight and disappear just as quickly. They can stay active for years without being found. Don’t count on the police to protect the whole internet.
Myth #8: “My social network accounts are safe. Friends will be friends.”
When a social platform becomes popular, you can bet that the cybercriminals will be there, sniffing out potential victims.
TRUTH: People connect very easily and scammers have developed tricks to target these networks. Fake profiles and personas are dangerous and are used to collect personal information about other people. Be careful who you add as a friend.
Myth #9: “I don’t have sensitive information. Why worry?”
Yes you do. You’re just not aware of it or don’t consider it valuable. Did you let your browser remember all your passwords for online accounts? Isn’t your email filled with personal conversations and photos?
TRUTH: You might think your data is not important, but criminals collect and assemble such information in the masses. Later on, they can use it to trick other people pretending to be you.
Myth #10: “If I do get infected, I’ll know about it.”
This used to be true, when computers used to run slowly or get annoying pop-ups. Nowadays? Cybercriminals have improved. They are more efficient and know how to hide attacks.
TRUTH: Some malware is built to be undetectable and untraceable, even by most antivirus software.
The Internet has been coined the Wild Wild West (www.) for a reason. There are so many dangers lurking to catch the most humble of users. Don’t presume these traps are set solely for the rich and famous. The biggest earners for cybercriminals are home users and small businesses.
NEXT TIME…Now you know the risks. Learn how to improve your security in 10 simple steps.