There are things we all think we know to be true about cybersecurity that may not actually be true. We are going to bust some myths you may believe about the best ways to keep yourself safe online.
Myth: You should change your password every 30 days.
Reality: More important than frequently changing your password is making it sufficiently long and complex.
Myth: I can’t be hacked because I use long, complex passwords.
Reality: Using long, complex passwords is safer than using short, easy to guess passwords, but hackers are not sitting at a keyboard manually typing in passwords to get into your accounts. They use software that can run billions of possible passwords in a brief time. For better protection, use two-factor authentication (2FA) and a password manager.
Myth: Do not write down your passwords.
Reality: Although jotting your passwords on a sticky note attached to your monitor is a bad idea, it can be a good idea to write down some passwords and store them in a secure place out of public view. Do not keep your passwords in an unencrypted text file called “passwords.txt.” That is the first-place hackers will look!
Myth: Two-factor authentication (2FA) via text message is not secure and should not be used.
Reality: 2FA via text message is not as secure as some other methods (e.g., an authenticator app), but any 2FA is better than no 2FA. And in a typical brute-force attempt any 2FA will cause about 90 percent of these attempts to be totally unsuccessful. You definitely want some form of 2FA on an Amazon account or anything that has any ties to credit cards and other account information, no matter what kind of 2FA it is.
Myth: You don’t need antivirus software if you have a firewall.
Reality: That is just wrong. Good antivirus software offers protection that a firewall does not. Both are important to protecting you.
Myth: I am not wealthy or famous, so no one would want to hack me.
Reality: Your data has value. Therefore, access to your personal information (such as credit card data) has value to hackers.
Myth: I can trust messages from my friends. They don’t want to hurt me.
Reality: Your friends probably do not want to hurt you, but are you sure that message is from your friend? Hackers may have accessed your friend’s account or set up a lookalike account from which they are messaging you. Before you click on a link to a cute cat video, be sure it is really what it claims to be.
There are many other common myths out there, but these are some of the most often believed and repeated. Protect yourself and your data with security software and remember that often the weakest link in your security is you. Be aware of trends in phishing, malware and other security problems and keep your system secure.