If you’re sick and tired of people constantly getting in your face about "browsing safely," you’re not alone. All the fire and brimstone warnings about internet security are such a turn-off. Besides, you bought antivirus software and you can see the little icon on the desktop doing its business.
Ah, the bliss of browsing in a soft, cottony web of denial! Who doesn’t want to believe they can point, click and browse with reckless abandon hither and yon across the vast open space that is the internet? But just like the time you learned that the tooth fairy ran out of money (ahem), tough love must be meted out sooner or later. How about now?
Turn away from all those internet security lies that only made your life a shell, a sham, a wisp. The following distortions may be hard to process at first, but you’ll be better off in the long run.
Lie # 1: If the lock icon is Illuminated, I’m good to go.
Before you go online and purchase that batch of glow sticks for your emergency preparedness kit, you look for that little padlock in the browser bar. Although your instinct tells you to beware, that lock is the mark of the Internet Security God, right? That would be a big, fat fail.
All that the padlock icon means is that there is a secure connection between your computer and the web server: You’re still not protected from malware. Also, some hackers are quite good at faking an SSL certificate - or buying one for a spell - and throwing in some padlock clip art. Many people have been fooled into thinking a page is legit when in fact it’s not. Don’t get spanked by a hack attack.
Lie # 2: Only adult sites are dangerous.
Since you don’t visit websites of ill repute, you’re in the all clear. Buzz! Wrong answer. More than 83 percent of malware hosting sites are "trusted." You’re more likely to be attacked by visiting a legit shopping or general lifestyle site than you are an adult or gambling site. Go ahead and do whatever you need to do with this information, but do it safely.
Lie # 3: There is nothing valuable on my computer.
So you don’t have major financial institution spreadsheets on your hard drive or a database of Beverly Hills socialites’ social security numbers. You probably do have an email password, access to at least one social networking site and a resume in your documents folder, which are all someone needs to steal your identity.
Think about it - all your juicy lifespan details are listed: your alma mater, work timeline, etc. See, you do have something valuable on your computer - and it’s worth protecting.
Lie # 4: I already have antivirus software and don’t need more
Antivirus protection is a slicker in the storm and it’s great that you have it for inclement "conditions." However, a new virus enters the web-o-sphere quicker than you can say, "Trojan-says-what?" Buy software that updates definitions regularly, preferably automatically.
Also, antivirus software only stops viruses from infecting your system while you browse, which is great, but it’s not going to save you from a hacker’s super-smart coding hat trick. Get a multilayered solution that sweeps, firewalls and safeguards.
Lie # 5: My passwords are ridiculously superior
While "%14lugnut_(1776)-tutu" is better than "pass*word," you’re still not completely safe. No matter how creative or intellectualized your password, there’s someone (or something) out there devoting 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to breaking your sweet, weak code.
Hackers also use keyloggers, which can snatch and monitor keypad activity. Encrypt all you want - there’s still a chance your password will be passed along.
Lie # 6: Bells and whistles will go off when I’m infected
If you think that just because you don’t have a plethora of pop-ups or a slug-like system that you have nothing to worry about, you’ve bitten off a chunk of a fib. Malware has evolved to the point where you won’t detect it - that’s kind of the point. Even more reason to get your digital duckies in a row. Today’s threats are stealthy little bastards.
Lie #7: I have to download files to get infected
Back in simpler times, you just needed to watch for .exe files. Now, malware infections may occur through "drive-by" downloads. The malicious code lurks in seemingly innocent content, which then "executes automatically within the browser as a by-product of simply viewing the Web page." This dovetails from Lie #6 - you think you’re safe because nothing is happening when in fact you’ve just been hijacked!
The Bright Side
There’s a bright side to the shady land of internet security lies: Myth-busters are waiting to hold your hand and tell you the truth about your online escapades, however innocent. And while knowledge is power, taking action is a superpower.