Online privacy and Internet security are hot topics these days, with the recent Sony hack making headlines and online privacy concerns spreading through social media networks like wildfire. No doubt, there's plenty of conflicting information to be found about Internet security, which can leave even the most tech-savvy folks wondering what's true and what's not. To complicate matters, many people simply have no real understanding of how online privacy and Internet security works, placing a lot of faith on the assumption that their information is secure, simply because the website says so. Below, you'll find the top myths commonly believed about Internet security, and ways you can keep your information more secure when you go online.
While common sense is a key part of staying safe online, you shouldn't assume that just because you never open email suspicious email attachments and don't visit risky websites you don't need a security program installed. The way malicious software is spread is evolving daily, and pretending the threat isn't there doesn't mean it isn't. Hackers and online criminals know that most people no longer fall for the old tricks from a few years ago, and work hard to build new ways to access your information - ways you might not even consider until it's too late. Using good security software is an absolute necessity if you want to stay safe online.
Many people mistakenly believe that since the internet is so big, the likelihood that their personal privacy will be compromised is relatively small. While it's true that hackers are unlikely to specifically target you as an individual, a vulnerable system is like an open invitation to attack. Using automated programs and devices, hackers and online criminals can probe until they find a vulnerable system to attack. And, before you think there's nothing on your system that would be of any value to a hacker, think again. You'd be surprised how easily an identity can be stolen using everyday information from a personal computer!
This is a common misconception, with many people believing they need to shell out big money for Internet security. In reality, there are several great programs that are absolutely free. In fact, if you have a Windows computer, downloading Microsoft Security Essentials (for free) will provide you with just as much protection as some of the big-name brands in Internet software.
Take a moment to consider what's actually on your computer, and then reevaluate whether any of that information might be useful to online criminals or hackers. This includes any recent websites you've visited, your banking information from your last online purchase, your passwords to the sites you visit and your entire email account. Chances are, somewhere in all that information is enough for a criminal to use later on for identity theft or other malicious purposes. Don't assume that just because you don't have a document containing your exact credit card number or other personal information, that you have absolutely nothing of value for a hacker to find and use.
Don't be so sure. There are several malicious programs out there that can steal information from your computer without you noticing anything is wrong. Cyber criminal activity has evolved in recent years, and an attack isn't always as obvious as it once was. Before, you'd notice a lot of pop-up ads or your computer would start running extremely slowly. These days, you could have several malware programs or viruses on your computer and have no idea what's happening until it's too late.
While using a good password is important, password security is only a small part of the larger Internet security picture. Using a password manager, such as LastPass, can help you keep your passwords safe and organized, allowing you to have a different password for each website, but having strong passwords is not enough by itself. Always make sure you're using several layers of Internet security, including quality Internet security software.
There are a multitude of ways your privacy can be breached and your information accessed online, and not all of them involve a direct attack on your personal computer system. Placing all your trust in a single line of defense, such as anti-virus software or a firewall, is asking for trouble. Yes, security is a big part of staying safe online, but keeping that software up to date and taking extra precaution when shopping online are just as important in protecting your privacy.