5 Myths about the internet and security

Posted on: 15 December 2016
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The latest blog from our Information and IT Security Officer, Graeme Wolfe, looks at some myths around internet security, providing further advice and guidance on ways to keep yourself and your family safe and secure, especially in the run up to Christmas, when many of us are likely to be internet shopping and undertaking other online activities.

5 Myths about the internet and security:

I often get asked questions about the safe use of the ‘internet’, the threats and the myths attached to using the internet. Like the programme on the Discovery channel, here are some security myths that are BUSTED!

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  1. If I visit a compromised web site, my computer can only be infected if I agree to download or install malicious software. This is not always the case, some infected sites use background software that your computer will automatically run, to install their malware. To protect your computer from such attacks ensure you have up to date anti-virus software or malware scanners installed.
  2. Only ‘disreputable’ sites will contain malware. Hackers can find a way into any ‘reputable’ site and use it to host their malware, especially if that site doesn’t have good security protocols and measures, or has not been properly security tested. Just because a link takes you to a recognisable site, always be careful about what you enter or download. Better still, go to the site from a known bookmark or web address.
  3. I am too small a ‘fish’ to be of interest to hackers. Never underestimate the targeting ability of criminals and activists. Every single device that is compromised can be added to the network of computers used to support illegal activity or attack other sites and services.
  4. I have very little of any value to a hacker on my deviceThere is potential value for all information stored on your device as follows:  
  • Your address book contains details of ‘live’ email accounts that can be targeted or sold on
  • Browser’s and memory can retain a lot of personal data about you and your browsing habits, your ‘Digital Identity’, criminals can use this information
  • You may not think your data is valuable, but there are those who do and will try to obtain it from you (see myth 3 above).

5. My device is not one targeted by hackersIn the past this may have been true, but the massive rise in new technology, platforms and devices, combined with the ease by which an attacker can launch an attack, means that ANY device connected to the internet can be considered a target (see myths 3 and 4 above and my blog from last month).

So if any of you remember the programme ‘Hill Street Blues’, in the words of Sgt Phil Esterhaus “Let’s be careful out there!”

Graeme Wolfe

Information and IT Security Officer

09/12/2016

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