Cyber Security is essential to the future of any growing enterprise. Effective tools to prevent data theft or “hacks” will be the cornerstone of an effective digital strategy. The world is very different from what it was even 10 years ago, and realizing the myths about cyber security is key to a long-lived business.
- You are a low priority target. No, you are not a low priority target. Invasive programs and identity thieves go for low hanging fruit. If your data is easy to access, you’re a mark.
- Cyber Security is only IT’s problem. Everyone is online, so everyone can put data out that should be private. It may fall under an IT departments jurisdiction, but that doesn’t mean you should be careless about your data and pass the buck.
- Protecting yourself is enough. If someone entrusts you with private data, they are counting on you to keep that data, well, private.
- I have a virus blocker, everything is fine. Malicious programs are constantly being updated to challenge (and beat) firewalls and other defensive programs. Complacency also contributes to this. Assuming you are totally safe because you have a firewall is a quick way to expose yourself (or your business) to attack.
- I don’t visit ‘unsafe’ areas online. This is a particularly nasty habit. Just because your browser history is spotless doesn’t mean you’re free from risk of attack. Phishing scams, smart phone viruses, and identity theft all can result from simply being loose with your data. No, that Nigerian prince does not have a million dollars that he wants to give you.
- I have a strong password. I am totally safe. Nope. If you use that one password across multiple accounts, and it is discovered, all of your accounts are compromised. The safe practice is to have strong passwords (a collection of lower case, upper case, numerical, and punctuation) unique to each account. YES, it is a massive hassle and VERY annoying, but would you rather be hassled, or have your identity stolen?
- I don’t open spam emails so I’m safe from scams. Well, spam emails usually are harmless, and often helpful promotions or educational stuff (cough cough we have a great newsletter cough cough). The spam filter is not all powerful and lets invasive stuff through and blocks useful stuff just as often. It is very easy for someone to pose as a close friend and send an email from a familiar address. You can’t always tell who’s a friend. If you get a fishy email from a friend from a new email address – check in with them. It won’t hurt.
- Social Media are safe. I only interact with my friends. Okay, are you sure that the profile of Betsy Sue Robinson, who was in the class of ’82, is really your Betsy Sue? You haven’t spoken to her in 25 years. People create duplicate accounts frequently and with high quality. It can be hard to tell the difference.
- Going analog. So you’ve decided to reduce your digital footprint after religiously using Facebook and Twitter. Great! You just created an opportunity for someone to assume your identity and easily pretend to be you – they maintain the same cadence of posts and interactions, and no one wises up to the scam. You have no idea it’s happening because, surprise, you’re offline.
- “It will never happen to me.” Just because the internet is used by billions of people every day does not mean that Murphy’s law doesn’t apply to you. Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Yes, the statistical chance of an attack on an individual (you) is microscopic, but there is still a chance.