Busting the Ten Biggest Computer Security Myths

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

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LifeHacker has an interesting write up today by author Angus Kidman in which he proposes busting the ten biggest computer security myths.

While some of the myths addressed may seem to be common sense issues, they also represent widespread misconceptions that continue to be pervasive in the information technology world today, so a reminder that these notions are bunk seems in order.

A brief summary of his Kidman's myth busting is as follows:

Myth #10. Computers represent the biggest security risk

  • "According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, phone scams remain more common than any other type..."

Myth #9. Security software companies write most viruses

  • "Given that a large part of security now focuses on analysing the contents of web sites and email, it’s obvious that writing viruses would be a lousy business model..."

Myth #8. Personal data is sold for large sums

  • "Information of this type is generally traded in bulk between criminals, and often barter rather than outright cash payments are involved..."

Myth #7. I should pay for this security software that has just spotted a flaw

  • "If a message appears from a security software package you don’t remember installing, you’ve got a problem — but the problem is the fake security software itself..."

Myth #6. I can trust messages from my friends

  • "If your friend’s system has been hacked (perhaps because they didn’t follow good password practices), then it’s very easy for a fake message of this type to get out. It’s also very easy to check..."

Myth #5. Windows is full of security holes

  • "The popularity of Windows means this problem isn’t going to disappear, but it’s a mistake to presume that means Windows itself is permanently or intractably insecure. Like any computer OS, it is ultimately at the mercy of its users..."

Myth #4. Online criminals only target big business

  • "While a big company can make a juicy target, cyber-criminals spread their net far and wide... any size of business can be a target..."

Myth #3. Microsoft (or whoever) wants to [call] and help fix your security issues

  • "The simple truth? No-one legitimate will ever [call] to tell you a security problem has been detected on your computer. The world does not work like that, and never has..."

Myth #2. Macs don’t suffer from security issues

  • "No operating system is impervious. Modern code is so complex that flaws emerge everywhere, and you need to be alert whatever platform you use..."

Myth #1. You don’t need security software

  • "Modern operating systems are hugely complex. Drive-by downloads delivered via browsers can be virtually invisible when they install. People often let friends or colleagues use their computers, and they may not be as cautious as you are..."

For more details on each of the myths Kidman undoes, please refer to the full article here:

Source:  http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2012/05/10-biggest-computer-security-myths-busted/

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Beau Woods This looks like a good list for home computer users. I especially like #8. At this point there's more data than there are money mules to steal it. So prices are much lower than what most people think.

I'd add one more that's probably more practical - "security software will protect me from any threat" or, said another way, "I don't have to be careful online if I have antivirus." This would help a lot of people avoid compromise from the most common threats that hit home users.
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