Let’s face it: Cybersecurity and identity theft aren’t things we like to think about. And according to recent research, many of us aren’t thinking about it at all. Many of us get an antivirus program, try to use strong passwords, and hope those efforts are enough.
But are they? There are a handful of misconceptions about cybersecurity that have persisted over the years. October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and it’s a great time to familiarize yourself with them – or remind yourself of them — and get the facts. While cyber threats are real, there are steps – some new, some tried and true – that you can take to help better protect yourself.
Top Cybersecurity Myths
— If a WiFi network requires a password, it’s secure. Just because the WiFi network at the airport, or your favorite restaurant, requires a password to log in doesn’t mean it’s secure. Others can access the same WiFi network using the same password, and could potentially access sensitive information. The network might even be spoofed using a name similar to the real one.
What you can do: If you use public WiFi often, consider using a Virtual Private Network, or VPN. There are a variety of VPN services available, and some are free. In addition, never conduct sensitive business like checking your bank account or making purchases over public WiFi.
— A good antivirus program will protect you. While it’s a great step to take and can offer some protection, nothing can offer complete protection against all attacks. also can’t protect against hackers figuring out your passwords and similar tactics.
What you can do: Back up your computer regularly on an external hard drive that’s not connected to your computer.
— If my computer gets infected, I’ll know. Unfortunately, the days when an infected computer slowed noticeably or displayed pop-ups when infected are over. Some programs are nearly undetectable, and can access your information with no sign it’s happening.
What you can do: Keep your operating system updated, along with your software (such as browsers) to make sure you have the latest security patches installed.
— A strong password is enough. This may have been the case previously, but it’s no longer true.
What you can do: Cybersecurity experts recommend using two-factor authentication, when available, in addition to a strong password. Two-factor authentication requires something beyond a username and password to log in or access a device. That may mean a personal identification number, a token that generates a number, or even fingerprint or facial recognition. It may mean an extra step to log in, and it’s not 100% fail-safe, but it’s an extra layer of security between you and a cyber adversary.
— No one will guess my password. You may think your password is safe, but that’s not always the case. And besides using some relatively easy-to-guess passwords, many people use the same passwords for different sites. This means if a hacker gets access to one site, they can access numerous accounts.
What you can do: Consider using a password manager app or program. Password managers can create and remember unique passwords for every website. There are a variety of programs and apps available, some of them free.
The world of cybersecurity is changing constantly, and knowing the facts about how to help protect yourself can be key to keeping your personal information safe.