10 cybersecurity myths you need to stop believing
By y Kim Komando
We hear about cybercrime so often that it can quickly turn into white noise. That’s a mistake. On the Dark Web, you can purchase cybercrime “how-to kits” that gather lists of breached names, account numbers, passwords, and even telephone support lines for the victims to call. It’s not difficult to get on the Dark Web. Make no mistake. Just because you’re on the Dark Web doesn’t mean you’re anonymous.
Ransomware attacks, data breaches, and scams — along with a steady stream of extortion and phishing emails — have taken over the internet. We hear about cybercrime so often that it can quickly turn into white noise. That’s a mistake.
Here are 10 security myths you need to stop believing about your data.
1. I don’t have anything worth protecting
You might think your data isn’t worth anything. You might think because you’re broke, no one cares about your data. You might also think that since you have nothing to hide, there’s no point in protecting your identity or information. Think about it this way: All those free social media apps you sign up for — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat — aren’t free at all. When you sign the Terms and Conditions, you’re signing away your right to privacy, which lets the apps build a detailed demographic profile of you.
The companies turn around and sell this information to marketers; that means your information is making these companies millions of dollars. So why wouldn’t hackers want to cash in on that?
2. I use security software, so I’m fine
Many people think that security software will act as an invincible shield between their data and hackers. A group of Russian hackers breached servers of three major antivirus providers. Now, all the information they stole is up for sale on the Dark Web So, what’s an excellent way to work around this danger? Keep your operating system software and security software updated. Do the same for your other devices, including your phone and tablet.
Don’t forget about your router. Once hackers break into that, every device using it to connect to the internet is vulnerable.
Finally, make sure you’re using the right security software.
3. With all these data breaches, I have nothing left to protect
Want to see if your data has already been breached? One website has been tracking data breaches for years and put a handy search tool online. You simply enter your email address and get a yes or no answer. Let’s say you’re on the list. You may feel hopeless, and like there’s no point in protecting your data since it’s already been overtaken.
That’s not true. There are different types of data breaches that can have different impacts. For example, say your password and username to your bank account have been breached. Don’t give up — inaction empowers the hackers to pry for even more information, which could lead them to your Social Security number.
4. Phishing scams are easy to spot
Phishing scams are becoming more sophisticated as hackers infiltrate companies, CEO’s personal accounts, and even government agencies. Phishing scams have skyrocketed during COVID-19. Very realistic looking extortion scams are making the rounds. The subject contains your email address and a password that looks familiar. The scammer says unless you pay up, they will release the video of you that they took using your webcam when you visited a porn site.
Don’t buy it. The scammer got your email address and password from a data breach. If you are still using the combination of both, it’s best to change your password at the very least.
It’s not always as simple as an unfamiliar account reaching out to you with bizarre messages trying to get you to click on a link. Sometimes, they use familiar faces against you, which leads to the next myth.
5. My friends on social media won’t hurt me
The great thing about social media is that it connects you with your friends and relatives. Unfortunately, the web of connectivity can be an opening for spiders to turn friends into gateways for data breaches. Say your friend has a weak password, and their account gets breached. Say they send you a private message saying they found a funny new video or a cool new site you should check out. Since the link is coming from a familiar face, your guard may be down. After all, you’re aware of phishing scams when you get a message from someone you’ve never heard of, but you don’t have that on your mind when you hear from a friend.
Hackers bank on those lowered guards to corrupt your web and turn it into a jumping point for even more data breaches.
6. Hackers are mysterious, scary figures
When you think of a hacker, you probably imagine popular images of hooded figures hunched over a computer. A lot of hackers are regular people and can be hard to spot. It’s important to realize that hackers aren’t lone wolves. There are entire organizations — some government-funded — that work together to infiltrate data and rake in millions. Hacking is also a popular way for mobsters to bring in cash at long distances.
Once you realize just how dire this threat is, it becomes easy to understand why it is so important to take steps towards cybersecurity.
To stay on top of the latest hacker threats, get my breaking tech news alerts. You’ll only get an alert when threats strike.
7. I only go to mainstream sites, so I don’t need security software
You need security software no matter where you go. Remember what I said earlier, about how social media apps sell your data to make their money? The more cookies you have in your browser, the more your every step is being followed. When multiple sites have a detailed profile of you, that increases your chances of getting your data breached, since all companies are vulnerable to a data breach. Security software keeps you safe. It’s like two-factor authentication: a necessary step towards protecting your privacy.
8. I use complex passwords
Even a long, complicated password isn’t enough to keep you safe in today’s security landscape. Nowadays, there are speedy programs people use to run billions of password combinations — and it only takes a second to run these potential passwords. Not only that, but hackers have sophisticated methods for identifying passwords we use in password creation.
That’s why you should also use password managers as well as two-factor authentication.
9. I know a fake voice when I hear one
You’ve probably heard that scammers will call you with robotic voices, pretending to be the IRS. They demand money. Maybe you’ve gotten one of these calls yourself. You may think you can recognize a robotic voice, but unfortunately, robocallers are improving their techniques. Deepfake technology can replicate more than just faces. It’s also expanding into voices. Online programs need only to hear your voice to create a close copy.
10. I will know when something bad gets in my device or computer
Cybercriminals’ work is stealth. When they’re doing their deeds, there’s no red flag that pops up. They have intricate ways of infiltrating your data; there could even be Trojan horses in the form of viruses lurking in your code right now. Now that you’re aware of the 10 most common cybersecurity myths, you’re better equipped to recognize misinformation spread by hackers who want to keep you vulnerable. Remember, your data is worth a lot to cybercriminals, so take steps to protect it. Make sure all of your gadgets are up to date with all the security patches needed to fend off online attacks.
Make use of robust security software, password managers, and two-factor authentication. Most of all, follow news on recent breaches and hacking trends to keep your security tools reliable and timely.
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