Security Matters

POSTED: OCTOBER 5, 2012

There are some common myths that may influence your online security practices. Knowing the truth will allow you to make better decisions about how to protect yourself.

Who created these myths?
There is no one source for these myths. They may have been formed because of a lack of information, an assumption, knowledge of a specific case that was then generalized, or some other cause. As with any myth, they are passed from one individual to another, usually because they seem legitimate enough to be true.

Why is it important to know the truth?
While believing these myths may not present a direct threat, they may cause you to be more lax about your security habits. If you are not diligent about protecting yourself, you may be more likely to become a victim of an attack

What are some common myths, and what is the truth behind them?

· Myth: Anti-virus software and firewalls are 100% effective.
Truth: Anti-virus software and firewalls are important elements to protecting your information; however, neither of these elements are guaranteed to protect you from an attack. Combining these technologies with good security habits is the best way to reduce your risk.

· Myth: Once software is installed on your computer, you do not have to worry about it anymore.
Truth: Vendors may release updated versions of software to address problems or fix vulnerabilities. You should install the updates as soon as possible; some software even offers the option to obtain updates automatically. Making sure that you have the latest virus definitions for your anti-virus software is also especially important.

· Myth: There is nothing important on your machine, so you do not need to protect it.
Truth: Your opinion about what is important may differ from an attacker's opinion. If you have personal or financial data on your computer, attackers may be able to collect it and use it for their own financial gain. Even if you do not store that kind of information on your computer, an attacker who can gain control of your computer may be able to use it in attacks against other people.

· Myth: Attackers only target people with money.
Truth: Anyone can become a victim of identity theft. Attackers look for the biggest reward for the least amount of effort, so they typically target databases that store information about many people. If your information happens to be in the database, it could be collected and used for malicious purposes. It is important to pay attention to your credit information so that you can minimize any potential damage.

· Myth: When computers slow down, it means that they are old and should be replaced.
Truth: It is possible that running newer or larger software programs on an older computer could lead to slow performance but you may just need to replace or upgrade a particular component (memory, operating system, CD or DVD drive, etc.). Another possibility is that there are other processes or programs running in the background unknownst to you.

If your computer suddenly becomes slower, it may be compromised by malware or spyware, or you may be experiencing a denial-of-service attack (which happens when someone purposely or inadvertently keeps you from using your computer and doing your job by constantly bombarding your system.) If your system suddenly slows down for no apparent reason, talk with your IT support team or contact UKIT Customer Service, 8-HELP.
Source: The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team, US-CERT, www.us-cert.gov.

859-218-HELP (859-218-4357) 218help@uky.edu

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