8 Online Security Myths

While there is certainly not any shortage of threats to your online security, there are also some popular falsehoods that people believe. Here are eight myths about your security that are worth dispelling.

1.    The Risk of Attack is Minimal

Many people tend to think that it is unlikely they will ever be exposed to a hacker attack. While the reasoning behind this seems to be logical—most people are not famous, rich, engaged in an activity that would draw attention to themselves—this is incorrect.

Most hackers don’t go through a list of targets and choose someone based upon who they are or how much they have. Rather, most of attacks are large-scale actions perpetrated with automated tools. Meaning that you have just as much risk of attack as the next person, even if you think you don’t have anything valuable that a hacker might want.

2.      Using an App Instead of a Browser Will Keep Me Safe

Many people tend to think that the security offered by an app is better than that of a browser. This is simply not true: like a browser, an app is a program. And programs can be vulnerable to a security breach. In fact, in some cases, an app can provide much more information to a hacker than a browser—such as an updated location for you at any given moment.

3.      I’m Completely Protected if I Use a Firewall and an Antivirus

While the combination of a firewall and a good antivirus program are a significant step forward in terms of security, you shouldn’t think that you are no longer at risk. To provide the best protection, be sure you are regularly updating your software with any patches the manufacturer puts out. And make smart choices when using software.

4.      My Data is Not Worth Stealing

You might think that you have no sensitive data, but chances are that there’s at least something that would interest a hacker. Between phone numbers, credit card information, addresses, important dates, and other things, you have a hefty block of information saved on your computer. This helps would-be identity thieves figure out how best to impersonate you.

5.      I Only Use a Mac, Therefore I am Safe

For some reason, many Mac users think their machines are hacker-proof. This is simply not the case. In fact, the first known computer virus was detected on a Mac way back in 1982. Macs may enjoy a slight edge over Windows-based systems, by they are by no means bulletproof.

One reason that Macs may have, to date, had fewer security issues is simply because fewer people used them. However, as they continue to grow in popularity, they become bigger targets for hackers. Compounding the problem is the fact that many Mac users—believing in the infallibility of the Mac system—don’t take any security measures at all.

6.      I Can Hide My Wi-Fi and Make It Un-hackable

Making it so your wi-fi network is hidden doesn’t really protect you as much as you might think. Consider that most hackers are already technologically capable, and more than able to find hidden networks. Keep in mind that most networks are hidden, which means that any hacker who is even moderately competent will be aware of this fact (and know how to find your network).

7.      Storing Data in the Cloud is Not Safe

Many people think that data in the cloud is more susceptible to hacker attacks than if it were stored on their desktop or laptop computers. The fact of the matter is, most successful data theft attempts succeed because the user falls prey to a tactic such as phishing or something of a similar nature.

The technology surrounding cloud storage is no less secure than the storage on your computer’s hard drive. As such, enhanced security measures for cloud storage should focus primarily on the behavior of the user and not on the cloud storage technology itself.

8.      If I Use Anti-Virus Software, It Will Make My Computer Slow Down

This myth does have a grain of truth in it: years ago, using a good antivirus program could cause your computer to slow down by as much as 50%. Fortunately, this is not the case anymore. For one thing, protection software is much less cumbersome and resource-intensive than it used to be. For another, phones, laptops, and desktop computers have so much more power now that most users barely notice a difference when they are running an antivirus program.

Educate Yourself

Of course, the above myths are not the only ones that persist when it comes to the world of data security. When you hear something about your data, make sure to take the time to really investigate the claim before you believe it, especially if believing it is going to significantly change the way you use your information technology resources.

Contact the office on 01253 808 472 to arrange a free security audit of your business.

Protect Yourself from Mobile Phone Port-Out Fraud

TSB customers have noted a marked increase in the occurrence of “port-out” fraud in the month of May. This type of fraud involves using a ported telephone number to gain access to unsuspecting victims’ bank accounts.

When engaging in port-out fraud, the fraudster will convince the mobile telephone service provider to move the victim’s number to a SIM card. The fraudster controls this SIM card and then uses it to access the text messages that would otherwise go to the victim. Once the fraudster is able to intercept text messages, he or she can take advantage of password reset services, two-factor authentication practices, and other similar practices in order to gain access to the victim’s online bank accounts, credit card information, and other financial data.

What is Number Porting?

Number porting is not, in and of itself, a bad thing. It is a legitimate service that telecommunications providers offer to their customers. Using number porting, a customer can switch service providers without losing his or her phone number. The old number is simply ported to the new device and/or data network provider. To facilitate this, the old service provider gives the customer a code known as a Porth Authorisation Code (“PAC” for short). The PAC is used to complete the port.

This service was implemented in response to a law passed nearly 15 years ago; the aim of the law was to prevent consumers from being “locked in” to a certain service provider for fear of losing their phone number.

Sadly, fraudsters have discovered that port-out fraud can be very lucrative. As a result of this type of fraud, many people have suffered significant financial loss. One such customer ended up losing £6,000 after a fraudster used the customer’s number and transferred it to a new SIM card.

The Timing of the Port-Out Fraud Increase

Recently, TSB updated its computer systems. An unintended effect of this was to lock 1.9 million users from their accounts. Fraudsters have taken advantage of this to target customers and engaging in phishing and smishing tactics. These tactics allow the fraudsters to then attempt port-out fraud.

Protecting Yourself:

There are a few things you can do in order to help reduce your chances of falling victim to port-out fraud.

  • PAC Code Notifications If you unexpectedly receive a notice regarding a PAC request, you should contact your service provider right away. Inform them of the situation, and then call your financial institutions to keep them updated.
  • Clicking on Links or Downloading Files: If you are not expecting an email or a text with a link in it, don’t click on anything in an unsolicited communication. This includes communications that appear to come from a legitimate source such as your bank.
  • Password or PIN Requests: Your bank will never contact you to ask for your password or PIN number. Likewise, a request to move money to a different account is likely a fraudulent request.
  • SIM Swapping: Port-out fraud is not the same as SIM swapping. Although they are similar, a SIM swap involves fraudulently obtaining a new SIM card which provides access to the victim’s accounts.

Here at AGT Computer Services Ltd. offer free security reviews of your business and devices – get in touch on 01253 808 472 if you would like toset up an appointment.