Most people use the Internet daily under the assumption that everything they do is safe and protected. This is precisely what identity thieves and cybercriminals want you to believe.
What most people believe about the security of using the Internet is either wildly out of date or just completely wrong. While most people understand that there are threats out there and risks associated with going online, they usually think of these things as something that happens to somebody else … until it happens to them!
Here are seven of the most common myths associated with Internet security:
- If My Computer is Infected with a Virus, I Would Know About It
Most web users believe that if their computer has been infected with a virus, it will exhibit telltale signs, such as running slow, showing unexpected and unwanted pop-ups when visiting certain sites, screen freezes, or crashing the computer altogether.
The reality is that most viruses today are stealthy and extremely difficult to detect. Many don’t exhibit any “symptoms”. Some can lie dormant for years before executing their malware, while others can divert a portion of your computer’s CPU for other activities without your knowledge.
- I Don’t Have to Pay for Security Software Because I Can Get It Free
While some of the free antivirus and other computer security software programs available today offer some high-quality protection, they almost never offer the same level of security as paid packages. In many instances, they are simply modified versions of the paid security software and offer only basic antivirus protection.
They usually don’t give you anti-spam, behavioral analysis or other important protections. Like anything else in life, when it comes to free security software, you usually get what you pay for.
- I Can Only Get Viruses and Other Malware from Email Attachments
The most common way for viruses to find their way into computers is by users opening email attachments from sources they don’t know. While this may have been true in 1998, it’s not the case today.
The biggest risk for viruses is malicious websites. In some instances, these malware-infected websites will have executable programs that begin downloading the moment you land on the web page. Your best option is to avoid visiting sites you don’t know or trust and never clicking on web links within emails.
- Malware Comes Mostly from Downloads at Peer-to-Peer (P2P) and Torrent Sites
Stealing downloads such as movies, TV shows and music used to come with a huge risk because many of the P2P and Torrent sites include files that were infected with viruses and other malware. But because most people don’t use these sites anymore (now that streaming video and audio is widely available for free or at affordable prices), most malware today actually comes from rogue websites that look perfectly normal or from legitimate sites that have been compromised by hackers.
The truth is Internet users today have no idea where viruses or malware is coming from. Sites that seem perfectly normal or that you have used multiple times safely in the past may now be infected and could spread their viruses to your computer simply by clicking on them.
- You Are More Likely to Get a Virus from a Porn Site than from a Mainstream Site
Actually, the people who maintain websites featuring porn spend a lot of money and time protecting their sites from malware. That’s because they are highly popular sites that bring in a lot of revenue. So hackers have a harder time getting their viruses and other malware into these popular pages.
It’s far easier to implant malware into hobby and leisure sites than it is a porn site. Visitors tend to be less cautious and are more willing to click on links, open attachments or take other actions that can trigger a viral infection into their computers on leisure and hobby sites.
- “I Can’t Get a Drive-By Download Because I Have a Firewall”
While it’s important that you have a firewall installed on your personal computer, they don’t provide 100% protection against all executable programs that begin downloading the moment you click on an infected website. These programs, also known as drive-by downloads, can often only be detected by other security software that blocks incoming and outgoing web threats.
- “If I Don’t Open an Infected File, My Computer Can’t Get Infected”
Cybercriminals and hackers are too sophisticated today to rely on you opening an infected file on your computer. That’s why they frequently will open it for you or trick your computer’s operating system into opening the file automatically.
That’s why it’s so important that you avoid allowing infected files into your computer in the first place. Once they find their way into your system, you may never be able to get rid of them. Or they can cause a lot of damage by the time you do eradicate them from your computer.