Debunking The Top 10 “My PC Is Safe” Misconceptions
Many computer users live in a state of false security over their security. They may think that their PC habits keep them safe when they actually open them up wide for a hack attack. Let's debunk some of the more popular misconceptions:
I enter my credit card info only on sites that show they're secure.
Great! Why don't you just email me your credit card numbers (along with the code on the back) and I can go on a shopping spree on your tab? After all, better me than some dumb hacker. At least I'm cute, deserving, and I entertain you. Here are all the reasons why you should never enter your card online anywhere:
- https (secure) can be faked.
- Even if the site IS secure, how do you know that the company operating the site isn't a scam? Sure you don't usually have to worry about sites like Amazon or Ebay, but what about www.isellcheappcs.com?
- Even if the site is a huge and reputable one, haven't you read the reports that hackers have made off with tens of millions of credit card numbers by hacking into those companies' sites?
So what do you do? Simple. Find what you want to buy. Leave that page open on your monitor. Call the company's toll free number. Tell them "Hi, I want to buy your XYZ and I'm on that page right now. I will give you my credit card and other info over the phone because Hal told me that if I type it into your site, I deserve to be a lapper."
I bought the best and most expensive antivirus software.
Great again! You just wasted $50, $80 or even more. Next time, send the money to my Paypal account so that I can put it to good use while you download AVG AntiVirus Free. It's the only one I use and it works just as well as the big expensive packages with an extra added advantage: It doesn't hog your CPU cycles and slow down your Q9650 down to 386DX speed like Norton and his ilk.
I click on the X close button whenever I get that scam popup that "Your PC Has Malware".
Yikes! Don't ever do that. The X close button on a lot of those popups actually opens the site where you're sure to get malware actually loaded onto your computer. Those damn popups can often even get through popup blockers and filters. The only safe way to handle them is to immediately invoke your task manager and End Task on your browser.
I'm running Linux or Mac.
Don't kid yourself. Although there are far fewer outright viruses, trojans, etc. that infect these operating systems, Linux and Mac users are just as susceptible to phishing scams and lots of other nasties. Safari is a well known colander browser when it comes to security, so Macheads would be well advised to stick to Firefox 3 which is far more secure.
I easily remember my passwords since I only have one.
Of all the risky things to do with your PC, this may be the number one. If your password is cracked (and believe me, it's way easier than you may think), you've just handed the hacker the keys to your bank account and all your personal information. If you can't possibly remember tons of passwords, and who can, there are two really great ways of getting around this:
- If you have to have just one password, try this. Let's say your password is halisastud. (No, and that's not my password but it should be!) Take the, say, third and fourth letters from the URL (after www.) of each site and add it to the front of the password. So if you're logging onto hotmail.com, your password there would be tmhalisastud, and if you're logging onto ebay.com it would be ayhalisastud. This way each password is unique and you stand far less chance of getting hacked and busted wide open.
- Download a text replacement utility like ShortKeys Lite. It's free and it works great. All you do is assign a two key combination, like ~1, ~2, ~3, etc. to each password. Then, just set your bookmarks to all your login screens for each site you need a password in this manner: Bank A ~1; Bank B ~2, Paypal ~3, etc. So let's say you want to log onto your account at Bank A, you just call up that bookmark, hit the relevant key which is ~1 in this case, and you're in! The only prob with this system is that if anyone sits at your PC they've got ALL your passwords, so make sure that you set your screensaver to autolock to password screen if you're at work or have snoopy people around the house.
I download lots of free software that works great!
Freeware is wonderful, but did you know that the majority of freeware downloads contain some form of malware? It could be as simple as an adware or as vicious as a keylogger which sends back to the hacker every single letter you type, yes, including your bank passwords. The best ways to download free software is only through top reputable sites like download.com and then only after checking through the comments and ratings to determine if other downloaders have found that particular software to contain malware. Don't ever ever ever just click on Open at the end of the download process. Close that popup box, and run your AVG AntiVirus Free (or your expensive paid virus scanner if you must) on that file. When it shows clean, you can install it.
I only use secure WiFi Hotspots.
Aint no such a thing, sucka. You use WiFi in a public place, you risk a complete hacker crack. Period.
Hard drives are very reliable these days so I don't back up.
Puh-leez. Don't make me go onto another tirade about how you should back up everything, all the time, and store it securely offsite. What would happen to your PC and the backup external hard drive that you've put in the closet for safekeeping if your house burns down? There goes the novel you've been working on for the last 14 years.
I download a lot of torrents, but they're all legal (wink wink).
Even legal torrents can be infected with all sorts of nasties. If you have to download torrents, again run your virus scanner on the completed file or file folder before launching it, and don't be afraid to trash it if it comes up dirty. Yeah, I know that it just took you three days to download the entire Star Trek TNG collection, but it's going to take you three days to rebuild your hard drive from bare metal... if you had a backup!
I save time by getting into my accounts from links in emails.
Phishing. Read Don't Get Hooked By A Phisherman and then see if you'll ever click on an email link again. Here is the hard and fast rule for clicking on a link in an email to open one of your accounts: Do it only if you're a lapper.
Use some common sense and you won't become a statistic!