Are you relying on outdated knowledge about cybersecurity and leaving gaping vulnerabilities for cybercriminals to easily take your data and money? Unfortunately, it's more likely than you might think. Learn the biggest myths in cybersecurity and what to do to avoid the risks.
Most people don’t know much about cybersecurity—but they don’t realize they have a knowledge gap. You use computers and mobile tech all day long, and you use them proficiently. But just because you can navigate the web and your devices with ease doesn’t mean you are doing it safely or securely. In fact, it's more than likely you're relying on outdated knowledge about cybersecurity, which is leaving gaping vulnerabilities.
You don’t need to be as knowledgeable as an information security expert, but you do need to keep your fundamental understanding of cybersecurity updated. Here are a few common beliefs that were once true but are no longer effective at keeping you or your data secure.
Myth 1: You aren’t a prime target for a cyberattack
You are just one person. You don’t have millions of dollars in your bank account, nudes on your smartphone, or any kind of valuable insider information. Why would a cybercriminal waste time trying to attack you?
The truth is, just because you're not a particularly juicy target for a cyberattack doesn't mean you're not an easy one.
The truth is, just because you're not a particularly juicy target for a cyberattack doesn't mean you're not an easy one. In recent years, businesses have been aggressively arming themselves against attack, making it more and more difficult for hackers to get access to the data they crave.
Many unsophisticated cybercriminals simply can’t compete at the current level of corporate cybersecurity, so instead they scrounge for easy smash-and-grabs—and that’s you. Because your network and devices are essentially unguarded, attackers can waltz in, take whatever data and cash you have and leave without much fear of retaliation.
Myth 2: You're safe with antivirus alone
Antivirus software is imperative for identifying and eliminating malware—but malware isn’t the only threat to your data or devices. These days, attacks are multifarious, coming at you from a dozen directions and with surprising speed and intensity. You might succumb to an attack that originates through a backdoor in your smart vacuum, or you might fall victim to an attack launched while you were connected to the Wi-Fi at your neighborhood Starbucks. Antivirus software is good, but it doesn’t protect you against this kind of threat.
Instead, you need a much more robust security suite that includes antivirus as well as home network security, internet security, and more. It might be wise to get in contact with customer service from a trustworthy security firm, like TrendMicro or Symantec, to learn what products you need to stay safe.
Myth 3: You know what constitutes a strong password
A strong password is at least eight characters long and a mixture of lowercase letters, uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Every fourth-grader knows that.
Attackers have become so high-powered and efficient that they can crack a simple code like 'Pancake5' in about an hour and even a seemingly more complex one, like 'Zyzzyx13' in a day or so.
Except, that isn’t the case anymore. These days, you need a password that is over 12 characters and doesn’t contain any dictionary words or common names—it should be a completely random amalgam of letters, numbers, and symbols. This is because of the applications attackers use to attack logins with brute force; they have become so high-powered and efficient that they can crack a simple code like “Pancake5” in about an hour and even a seemingly more complex one like “Zyzzyx13” in a day or so. It is much smarter to use a password management tool to generate and store passwords for you, or else to use a more effective system for creating secure codes.
Myth 4: You can connect any device anywhere
The world has gone digital, which means that you can take any internet-ready device almost anywhere and find a Wi-Fi network to connect to. However, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Public networks—in fact, any insecure network that lacks password protection and WPA2 encryption—might as well have flashing neon signs that say “Get cyberattacked here.”
As mentioned above, network-based attacks are common, especially on networks that are easy for attackers to access. If you find yourself away from home and needing internet relatively often, it's smarter to subscribe to some type of secure mobile hotspot that you control. Additionally, you should keep your smart tech off public or open networks, where their built-in insecurities all but guarantee their infiltration.
You don’t have to be a police officer to stay safe on the streets, and you don’t have to be a high-ranking expert in the information security field to keep your home network and devices well-defended against cyberattack. By knowing a bit more of the truth about cybercrime, you can avoid a major attack and continue using your devices as normal.