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Debunking The 5 Common Computer Security Myths

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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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computer security

    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.

       

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      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 November 25, 2021

      How to Make Private Browsing on Safari Truly Private

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      How to Make Private Browsing on Safari Truly Private

      There comes a time when we may be searching online and don’t want the browser to remember our footsteps. The reasons don’t always have to be what we obviously think of as the main reason; for example, sometimes, you may not want Safari to remember your passwords or prompt you to enter your password when surfing the web.

      Whatever the reason, we may think that we are totally in the clear with Private Browsing on Safari and the other browsers on a Mac. However, a quick Terminal command can bring up every website you’ve visited. How do you do this? Also, how do you clear your tracks for good? We will provide both answers and more today.

        What Does Private Browsing Do?

        When activated, Private Browsing on Safari prevents your browsing history from being kept in the history tab of the application. Along with this, it doesn’t autofill information that you have saved in the browser. In this mode, you essentially become incognito and any references of previous use is essentially hidden when you are in private mode.

        For example: if you are on Facebook or filling out a form and some information or your login is already filled in in the spaces provided, this is called autofill. It’s activated by simply clicking Safari next to the Apple symbol in the menubar and selecting Private Browsing, then clicking “OK” to the prompt.

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        The reasons behind private mode differ for each individual. While we won’t go into all of those reasons, one thing that is  important to remember is that private browsing doesn’t forget the websites you visit. As we will see later on, Macs keep a second copy of the websites you visit in either mode. If you are in frantic mode looking for a solution to this, look no further.

        The Terminal Archive

        While Safari does a good job of keeping your search history out of prying eyes in the history tab, there is a less-than-obvious way to view a full list of visited websites on Mac. This is done in Terminal; the command-line emulator that allows you to make changes to your Mac.

        Terminal is located in the Utilities folder on your Mac. Once activated, simply add the command:

        dscacheutil -cachedump -entries Host

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        Once you hit “enter”, a list of the visited sites appear. Showing only the domains, the sites appear in a format of:

        Key: h_name :(website domain)ipv4 :1

        However, there’s no need to fear—there is a way you can clear this information from Terminal with a command that’s just as simple.

        Clearing Your Tracks

        Just as simply as you were able to enter the command to view the websites, you can clear the cache that Terminal showed you with the comamnd:

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        dscacheutil -flushcache

        As the command denotes, this literally “flushes” the domains from Terminal. This does not prevent the record from continuing to be recorded for future sites, however, so if that’s an issue for you, repeat this process regularly.

        Other Browsers and Private Browsing

        Other browsers have this form of privacy mode for their service. They promise many of the same things as Safari, but they do not have the same Terminal issue due to how this command only presents websites visited on Safari (the browser Macs come shipped with).

        If you use Firefox, you’ll notice that its private mode is also known as Private Browsing. Chrome calls private mode Incognito, while Internet Explorer refers to it as InPrivate Browsing. Opera is the newest to the scene, denoting it as Private Tab. Safari is the oldest well-known browser with this feature.

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        As you can see, despite Private Browsing not being 100% private, Terminal allows for your browser to be. In what ways has Terminal helped your life or allowed you to become more productive? Let us know in the comments below.

        Featured photo credit: Benjamin Dada via unsplash.com

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