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Don’t Believe These Cybersecurity Myths

Tired of hearing about cybercrime? Think you have nothing worth protecting? Think security software will protect you? If so, you’re probably wrong.

NEW YORK – Ransomware attacks, data breaches, and scams – along with a steady stream of extortion and phishing emails – have taken over the internet. We hear about cybercrime so often that it can quickly turn into white noise. That’s a mistake.

Here are 10 security myths you need to stop believing about your data:

1. I don’t have anything worth protecting

You might think your data isn’t worth anything. You might think because you’re broke, no one cares about your data. You might also think that since you have nothing to hide, there’s no point in protecting your identity or information.

Think about it this way: All those free social media apps you sign up for – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat – aren’t free at all. When you sign the Terms and Conditions, you’re signing away your right to privacy, which lets the apps build a detailed demographic profile of you.

The companies sell this information to marketers; that means your information is making these companies millions of dollars. So why wouldn’t hackers want to cash in on that?

2. I use security software, so I’m fine

Many people think that security software will act as an invincible shield between their data and hackers. A group of Russian hackers breached servers of three major antivirus providers. Now, all the information they stole is up for sale on the Dark Web.

So, what’s an excellent way to work around this danger? Keep your operating system software and security software updated. Do the same for your other devices, including your phone and tablet. Don’t forget about your router. Once hackers break into that, every device using it to connect to the internet is vulnerable.

3. With all these data breaches, I have nothing left to protect

Want to see if your data has already been breached? One website, haveibeenpwned.com, has been tracking data breaches for years and put a handy search tool online. You simply enter your email address and get a yes or no answer.

Let’s say you’re on the list. You may feel hopeless, and like there’s no point in protecting your data since it’s already been overtaken.

That’s not true. There are different types of data breaches that can have different impacts. For example, say your password and username to your bank account have been breached. Don’t give up – inaction empowers the hackers to pry for even more information, which could lead them to your Social Security number.

4. Phishing scams are easy to spot

Phishing scams are becoming more sophisticated as hackers infiltrate companies, CEO’s personal accounts, and even government agencies. Phishing scams have skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Realistic-looking extortion scams are making the rounds. The scammer says unless you pay up, they will release the video of you that they took using your webcam when you visited a porn site.

Don’t buy it. The scammer got your email address and password from a data breach. If you are still using the combination of both, it’s best to change your password at the very least.

Sometimes, they use familiar faces against you.

5. My friends on social media won’t hurt me

The great thing about social media is that it connects you with your friends and relatives. Unfortunately, the web of connectivity can be an opening for spiders to turn friends into gateways for data breaches.

Say your friend has a weak password, and their account is breached. Say they send you a private message saying they found a funny new video or a cool new site you should check out. Since the link is coming from a familiar face, your guard may be down. Hackers bank on those lowered guards to corrupt your web and turn it into a jumping point for even more data breaches.

6. Hackers are mysterious, scary figures

It’s important to realize that hackers aren’t lone wolves. There are entire organizations – some government-funded – that work together to infiltrate data and rake in millions.

7. I only go to mainstream sites, so I don’t need security software

You need security software no matter where you go.

When multiple sites have a detailed profile of you, that increases your chances of getting your data breached, since all companies are vulnerable to a data breach. Security software keeps you safe. It’s like two-factor authentication: a necessary step towards protecting your privacy.

8. I use complex passwords

Even a long, complicated password isn’t enough to keep you safe in today’s security landscape.

Nowadays, there are speedy programs people use to run billions of password combinations – and it only takes a second to run these potential passwords. You should use password managers and two-factor authentication.

Copyright 2020, USATODAY.com, USA TODAY