There is so much information about online dangers and staying safe online that it has become challenging to know what information to trust and what information was created to invoke panic.
When reading a horror story about someone who was scammed, as someone on the outside, it's so easy to brush it off with a mindset of "It'll never happen to me."
Maybe you're careful to only open emails and visit websites from trusted sources. Perhaps you're in debt, or your bank balances are low, so your data couldn't possibly be valuable to someone. Maybe you feel like you're savvy enough that browser protection couldn't help you, or you use strong passwords that couldn't possibly be cracked. We're here to debunk 8 common myths about staying safe online.
Myth 1: No one will steal my data because it isn't valuable.
Truth: Hackers don't target celebrities and the wealthy. They have automated tools that look for vulnerabilities all over the web. If you use the internet in any form, you are just as much of a target as anyone else. Even if you're in debt or have a low bank balance, your data is extremely valuable. If you don't have funds to steal, your accounts open access for hackers to pose as you to scam your friends and family. Information found about you can be used to create fake ids and birth certificates to sell on the dark web, among many other possibilities. Nobody, no matter what steps they take to stay safe, is unhackable, and there is value in every bit of information obtained about you.
Myth 2: If I only open emails from people and companies I know, I'm not exposed to danger.
Truth: It is incredibly easy to spoof emails to make them look like they are from someone you know or a company you are subscribed to. It's also prevailing for email accounts to become compromised, and you never know when this is going to take place. You might see an email that comes from a friend containing a link to view photos from a recent trip or event, but later find out that when logging in to view those photos, you inadvertently shared your log in credentials with a criminal on a page designed to carry out phishing attempts. Things like this happen to safety-conscious individuals every single day.
Myth 3: If I only visit trusted websites, I'm safe.
Truth: Even the biggest and most trusted companies like Facebook, Zynga, Canva, and Microsoft have been involved in data breaches. Hackers benefit most from the wealth of data held by more prominent companies. They also take advantage of security holes in websites hosted by smaller companies who lack the resources needed to implement the best security solutions available.
In addition, websites created by cybercriminals are not always easy to identify. The source code for websites can be easily copied, making it simple for criminals to create exact clones of popular sites and use those to harvest login credentials, spread fake news, and inject malware. These websites can live for years and cause severe damage until they're taken down.
Myth 4: I don't need a protection tool.
Truth: No doubt, being alert and thinking before clicking is a good layer of protection, but it's not enough. Your device can be infected without you noticing. Traditional antivirus programs are good at removing viruses AFTER malware has already infected your computer. But at that point, the damage has already been done. Modern antivirus programs that offer live browser protection and account monitoring warn you and block dangerous sites BEFORE your information is at risk.
Perhaps a Facebook friend shared something that could be dangerous, or maybe you got to a news site that's a clone of a real site, full of fake news and malicious content. It's always a good idea to get an extra layer of protection, even if you feel that you take every precaution.
Myth 5: My social networks are a secure environment.
Truth: Not a day goes by that we don't hear of a new Facebook scam involving innocent victims that all they did was befriend someone on social media. Cybercriminals create fake profiles used to collect personal information about others, which can lead to money scams and identity theft. They pose as people like you and me on social media every day and scam the friends and families of those cloned out of thousands of dollars by convincing unsuspecting victims that they're in trouble and need financial help. They can also create phony profile pages pretending to be big and legit companies and lure users into sharing and clicking on dangerous links.
Myth 6: I'm safe because I use strong passwords.
Truth: Having a strong, secure password for your accounts is indeed highly significant, and we always recommend using strong passwords wherever you can. We also recommend using a different password for each of your accounts and using two-factor authentication whenever possible. However, these safeguards only offer a thin layer of security, and it's not enough to keep cybercriminals away thanks to automated tools used by criminals. With techniques like phishing attacks, dictionary attacks, and brute force attacks, it's simple for a criminal who wants your password to obtain it.
Myth 7: I'll be able to tell if something infected my computer.
Truth: While some malware begins taking a toll on your device right away, in order to avoid detection and removal, many types of malware sit on your device for months before acting. In some cases, the effects of the malware are easily explained by benign causes. For example, slowness on your computer caused by malware or a keylogger could be easily brushed off as an effect of its aging or a slow internet connection. Malware is designed to go undetected for as long as possible so that criminals can gather as much information about you as possible before it is detected and removed. And that's IF it's ever detected and removed.
Myth 8: My business is too small to be targeted.
Truth: No business is too small or too big to be targeted. Everyone's data is valuable to cybercriminals and further, because small businesses are known to have more lax security protections in place than larger businesses, criminals view small businesses as easy targets for quick data mining. Protecting your business and your customers from online threats is essential for your customer's safety and the success of your business.