Technology Made Simple
Wednesday November 26th 2014

Safe Web Browsing Myths

More often than not, if you are reading articles from this site, you consider yourself a savvy computer user.  Though many of us think that we are using the internet in a safe way, we are actually vulnerable to malware or viruses.  The problem I often run into, is that people think getting infected is about going to seedy internet sites or downloading, and really it’s gotten a lot more complicated to surf safely than that.

There are certain myths that are passed around by people about how to stay safe on the internet or signs or things to do to make it safer to surf.  In reality these are myths, and the best way to help everyone out there is to dispel some of these myths.  Below are some of the common safe web browsing myths, that I generally run into (and somethings still suffer from):

  1. Firefox is more secure than IE
    I’ve heard this time and time again, and one of the ones that I believed for a while.  Internet Explorer (IE) was for a while the most popular browser around, and there were exploits for the browser itself.  Today’s internet bad guys are more clever than just attacking the browser itself to gain access to your information.  With the myriad of browsers out there it’s a lot easier to attack the plugins that every browser uses.  Exploiting programs like JavaScript, Adobe or Flash.
  2. I’m safe, I’ve never had malware
    When you think of a malware attack stealing information from your computer, you think of the pop ups, redirected web pages or slowness as being signs of an attack, when in reality the malware that steals your personal information may not show any signs  of being infected.  This is why it happens to so many people, who never knew, they expected signs and like a real crime, there usually isn’t a criminal advertising they’re going to rob you.
  3. I’m safe as long as I don’t download
    That’s a very early age internet way of looking at infection of systems, though it can happen.  Most of malware now a days is still downloaded to your computer, but not with you knowing about it, it’s called a “drive-by” download.  Hackers inject malicious code into a website and it downloads and executes automatically without you knowing about it, just by viewing the page.
  4. Only seedy sites have malware
    It’s often thought the adult, gambling or illegal site are where most people get infected with malware, but it’s not true.  Put yourself in the crooks shoes, where would you target?   They goto sites people trust and visit daily, so they can spread their software.  Currently 83% of malware server comes from hijacked sites, meaning that sites you visit daily and trust can serve malware to you.
  5. When the “locked” icon appears, I’m safe
    The “locked” icon most people see, is a secure connection between your computer and the webserver.  This is no way protects you computer from malware, it just says you have a secure connection.  This is where the trick comes in, because it’s a secure connection some web security products are blind to the traffic between the webserver and your computer.  Even if you take that out of the equation, hacked can spoof SSL (secure website) and create the “lock ” icon and get your information that you think you’re giving to a legit site.  Even phishing scheme’s recently have made the site look like paypal with the SSL looking legit for the average user.  So a secure site doesn’t mean that you’re safe.

I bet that you’ve probably either fallen for one of these myths or have heard it recounted time and time again.  The first trick in battling malware is knowing what works and what doesn’t, and above I’ve hope I’ve given you some things that you can’t rely on.

TASER® StrikeLight™

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