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Debunking The 5 Common Computer Security Myths

Debunking The 5 Common Computer Security Myths

Computer security is a fickle thing. It’s convoluted and difficult to understand and it’s so much so that even professionals have problems simplifying the information. Thanks to the constant and ever-changing stream of information, there are a lot of myths about computer security. Here is the truth about some of them.

1. No one wants to hack me, I have nothing worth taking

This is so not true. Believe it or not, hackers don’t select people based on what they have or who they are. Websites store passwords in big, giant databases. Don’t worry, they don’t store the actual password. What they do is encrypt the passwords. The encrypted passwords are what gets stored. When hackers steal passwords, they grab a giant batch of those encrypted passwords from the database and then use a mixture of software and hardware to decrypt them. That means when a hacker gets your password, it’s a stroke of bad luck and not generally a targeted attack.

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Once they hack you, they can use your computer a number of different ways. They can use your hard drive to store questionable files, use your computer and your network as slave computers in a cyber attack (typically a DDOS), or even root around your temporary internet files looking for passwords to other websites like your bank. Just because you have nothing special doesn’t mean a hacker can’t use you and it doesn’t mean you’ll never be targeted.

2. Using a VPN and secure web browsers like Tor help me remain anonymous online

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    Friends, let me tell you the bottom line, ultimate truth about the internet. If you’re on the internet, there is a way to find out who you are and where you are. Granted, with VPNs (virtual private network) and Tor it makes it much harder for people to find out who you are and where you are. However, none of it is foolproof and if they try hard enough, government agencies and law enforcement can still find you. If you don’t believe me, just ask the world’s highest profile hacker group, ironically called Anonymous who used the latest in protection and still got caught.

    3. Incognito Mode hides my privacy

    We’ve all been there before. You want to look up something on the internet without leaving a trace so you use Incognito Mode. You check your internet history afterward and it all looks good. You’ve browsed the web without leaving a trace, right? Wrong! Incognito Mode wipes any traces of your browsing history but only from your computer. Your ISP will still know you went to those websites, the websites themselves will still have a record of your IP address, and trackers will still see that you’re there. Google Chrome’s Incognito Mode FAQ says so and so does does Firefox.

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    4. I don’t need malware protection because I don’t do anything risky

    Just because you don’t go surfing around on porn sites, torrent sites, or other risky websites doesn’t mean that you’re free from malware risk. The reason why is because of advertisements. Some advertisements are from shady companies and infect your computer if you go to a page where ads are present. Since about 90% of the internet are supported by advertisements, that means pretty much everywhere (including Facebook and YouTube) can be a potential threat. In fact, YouTube has actually had this happen to them before. If you want to be the most protected, you’ll have anti-malware installed. It won’t protect from 100% of threats but it’s better than walking around unprotected!

    5. My installed software is totally safe

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      Every single Java and Adobe Flash update ever proves this wrong immediately. All software has security exploits and when software companies update their software, they’re not just improving performance and fixing bugs but they’re also plugging up those security holes to make it harder for hackers to exploit them. Thus, you should always make sure to install updates to your software because they are not always totally safe. In fact, they’re never totally safe. When you update them, they become safer but eventually there will be other updates you’ll need to install.

       

      No matter what you do, you’ll never be truly anonymous or safe on the internet. That statement isn’t meant to scare you but simply give you a perspective on how things really are. If you change your passwords, update your software, keep some anti-malware and anti-virus software around, and just be safe then you should be okay. However, you should always be prepared for the worst case scenario because as soon as you think you’re invincible, that’s when the bad things happen.

      Featured photo credit: Open The Fridge via openthefridge.net

      More by this author

      Joseph Hindy

      A writer, editor, and YouTuber who likes to share about technology and lifestyle tips.

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      Last Updated on February 15, 2019

      7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

      7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

      Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

      Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

      Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

      So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

      Joe’s Goals

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        Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

        Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

        Daytum

          Daytum

          is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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          Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

          Excel or Numbers

            If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

            What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

            Evernote

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              I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

              Evernote is free with a premium version available.

              Access or Bento

                If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

                Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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                You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

                Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

                All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

                Conclusion

                I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

                What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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