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5 misconceptions people have about computer security and how to protect yourself.

I have IT support and they keep my computers secure from cyber criminals.” We wish this were true, if so Sony Corporation would not have just been hacked into six times in a row. The truth of the matter is IT support is just that, support. They fix things when they break, setup new equipment and get it to work, and occasionally do some maintenance tasks if it is in your budget. Generally though, they fix what you ask them to fix and do a good job at doing so. They do not spend several hours a day reading to keep up with the latest threats, set up a test lab where they test the latest exploits and break into their own systems in this lab to learn how to better prepare you from these attacks, nor do they give you a detailed security audit report, pin pointing the vulnerabilities they found in your networks and what steps they took to patch the holes they found. That is what a specialized computer security company does.

I have a firewall and virus protection so I am safe and secure” - Another common misconception. There are several types of attacks that bypass all firewalls and security measures by directly attacking your networks router (the box that controls information into and out of your network) By using such an attack a hacker can gain access to your internal network where computers trust the information from the hackers computer because it is already authenticated on your network. This allows the hacker to access any information on any of your computers as if he/she was physically sitting at your computer. (Things like financial records, proprietary business information, employee records, customer credit cards, etc.) Also once in your system a hacker can record any keystrokes you type using a key logger. This is how the 16 year old kids that hacked the school computers at Palos Verdes High School managed to get the teachers passwords to change their grades. This gives hackers the ability to record your credit card number during online purchases, your bank login information during online banking, private emails, etc. This attack takes all of 10 minutes and currently 28% of computer networks in LA are vulnerable to this attack. If you like we can demonstrate this attack for you to validate this information. Also virus protection only blocks viruses, it does nothing to prevent hackers from accessing your information.

I don't have anything hackers would want to steal.” - Again, a common misconception. Identity theft is huge right now and social security numbers are going for about $1000 each on the black market. Businesses are the most vulnerable right now since they generally have things like W2 forms and employee information on their computers, especially medical offices because they tend to have thousands of patient records all going to electronic format thanks to ARA and government incentives, but homes are very likely to be hacked as well, especially homes in wealthy areas. This is because it is a safer environment for a cyber criminal. It is much safer to practice hacking on a home or small business with no IT department to look for traces of the breakin than it is to practice on fortune 500 companies. Besides many wealthy business owners access work computers from home via vpn connections. This allows hackers to break into the less secure and unmonitored home computer and then record logins and passwords used to access your office. Once a hacker has control of the home computer you use to remotely access work machines, the hacker can then access whatever you have access to at work without worrying about your IT department or what security measures they put in place. And if you don't do work from home they can still get your credit card info and banking info at very little risk for the hacker considering they can access your network from up to a mile away from their car using a laptop and $80 antenna.

Hacking is rare and not many people know how to hack. The chances that I will be broken into is very unlikely.” - Yet another misconception. When was the last time you got a virus or know of someone that has had a virus on their computer? I am guessing fairly recently. Well here is a shocking statistic, there are 16 times more reports of data being lost to a hacker than to a virus. Don't believe me, look it up on a site that tracks data loss statistics. Also in November 2011, computer hacking became the #1 cause of data loss with 22% of all lost data occurrences due to hackers. Also if you Google search “Youtube computer hacking” you will see a number of Youtube videos giving step by step tutorials to any criminal with an internet connection. Computer hacking has gone viral with sites like Youtube and now learning how to break into your computer has become so easy junior high kids are doing it. Also there are a wealth of freely downloadable tools on the web that have made computer hacking a “point and click” experience. But don't take my word for it, look for yourself.

I have never been hacked before, I don't know anyone that has been hacked, so why don't I hear more about hacker breakins in the news?” - A final misconception. The truth is the news is loaded with stories of computer breakins, granted they are mostly stories of large companies getting broken into because that is the kind of news that sells, but check the BBC under technology and you will see one to two news stories a day about computer hacking. Also check this site does a good job at covering computer security news. Also keep in mind when banks, businesses, and government sites get hacked into, they are not always looking to share that fact with the general public. Why? Because it is embarrassing, generates negative publicity and does not exactly foster consumer confidence in that company. People generally don't like to air their dirty laundry for everyone to see, sames goes for governments and businesses when they are broken into.

So now that you have learned some of the misconceptions involving computer security, what can you do to protect yourself?

Call 1-800-245-3002 for more information.