Many people see the Internet as this mysterious place that feeds them information and porn whenever they push the right keys to do that. The basics of how the Internet works, and who has built it, seems to elude most people and this has lead to any number of online security myths being created.
Here are ten of the best/worst online security myths that still exist today. Read it to upgrade your nerd level, and downgrade your ignorance level.
The 10 Best/Worst Online Security Myths
Yes, the internet does contain harmful material. This harmful material, however, is easy to avoid if you know what to look out for. With some smarts, the online world is much safer than any walk across the street…and you wouldn’t stop walking across the street…would you?
The green padlock makes everything secure
The ‘green padlock’ is the visual indication in your browser’s address bar which shows that HTTPS is enabled on the website. The “S” standing for SSL encryption, and added security. Then Heartbleed happened and online security isn’t as secure as we once thought.
This vulnerability showed everyone that you can’t just trust the people who have designed the web and think that they know everything. They don’t, they’re human beings and they will make mistakes.
Fortunately, you can make up for their mistakes by adding your own encryption via a high quality VPN provider. This is your failsafe against the failure of others, and a perfect way to take charge of your protection.
Crazy nerds create viruses that damage your computer
This use to be somewhat true about 2 decades ago during the early days of computer networks. Viruses today are meant to be as invisible as possible. They are meant to hide in your computer as botnets churn out spam and DDOS attacks, or they silently steal your login details and credit card numbers via keyloggers.
This online security myth is smashed as computer crime is now being carried out by professional and organized criminal groups. They don’t want you to know that they’re watching, and you need to be aware of this. Don’t just wait for your computer to “start acting weird” before you take action.
Always trust reliable websites you visit often
It would be great if hackers only ever hacked websites that other people visited. Unfortunately, hackers love attacking popular sites with bad security. They will do this by implanting malicious code into advertisement banners, pop up advertisements, and auto-playing videos that they have paid to display on the site.
You can get around them by using ad-block tools. It sucks that you have to stop the income source of many blogs, but until the industry is cleaned up why risk yourself so that they can pay their bills?
Everything my friends post on Twitter or Facebook is safe
Many people think that Facebook and Twitter are these magical floating oases of protection. Unfortunately, nothing attracts a con-artist like a crowd, and hackers are the biggest online con-artists working. If it looks out of place, don’t click on it. This includes things like the latest Facebook scam about color changing that spreads malware.
But I can still trust messages from my friend’s email accounts…right?
Nope! The email-spoofing scam takes over the email account of your friend and makes it look as if the message is actually being sent from them to you. This isn’t the case as it’s just a piece of malware that will install itself on your computer, steal your data, and do the same to your account. If your friends send you something unusually, ask them before opening it.
Apologies if anybody received an email from me early this morning saying I need a favour, I was spoofed, please ignore it, thanks
— Calvin (@Calv_Sherwood) February 1, 2016
Hackers don’t want to steal from me – I’m just one person
The massive Target hack got lots of attention, and many people think that all data theft and security breaches are geared towards these types of targets. This isn’t true as it is still lucrative to steal your credit card data and have a night out on the Amazon. Some of the most profitable online security threats are man-in-the-middle attacks that target one person and takes their specific data.
Sorry to bruise your ego, but your personal data isn’t worth that much. Stolen data is commonly used as barter in trades amongst hackers. Data is only valuable when it’s in big chunks. If one hacker has a bunch of data of a particular type that isn’t useful to them, they can trade it with someone who does have data they can use and who can use theirs.
I use a Mac, nothing will ever happen to me
More and more Mac viruses are creeping up due to how popular devices operating on iOS are becoming. A decade ago when only the most hardcore of nerds and designers had anything Mac that wasn’t an iPod, no one wanted to create malware for Macs – there wasn’t any money to be made. Mac security features are higher than standard PCs, but they are not impervious.
I have security software: I AM INVINCIBLE!
High. Larry. Us. Wouldn’t the world be great if every hacker only create malware that already had a security program designed to stop it? That isn’t the case. You still have to cautious with material that you don’t trust as no system will be 100% secure.
You can certainly better your security with the right security app and a good VPN provider, but you still have to be responsible, and you have to stop believing the old online security myths.