Many people and businesses unknowingly leave their private information readily available to hackers because they subscribe to some common myths about computer and network security. But knowing of the facts will help you to keep your systems secure. Here are some answers to these myths.
MYTH: “I have virus protection software so I am already secure.”
FACT: Viruses and security threats are two completely different things. Your anti-virus software will not tell you about any of the more than 10 000 security threats for which a good vulnerability assessment will test your network. These include whether your financial or customer records are exposed to the Internet or whether your computer is vulnerable to various hacker attacks.
MYTH: “I have a firewall so I don’t need to worry about security threats.”
FACT: Firewalls are great and typically provide a good layer of security. However, firewalls commonly perform services such as port forwarding or network address translation (NAT). It is also surprisingly common for firewalls to be accidentally misconfigured (after all, to err is human). The only way to be sure your network is really secure is to test it. Among the thousands of security threats a good analysis tests for, there is an entire category specifically for firewall vulnerabilities.
MYTH: “I have nothing to worry about; there are too many computers on the Internet.”
FACT: People understand the need to lock their homes, roll up their car windows, and guard their purses and wallets. Why? Because if you don’t then sooner or later you will be a victim. But people are just starting to be aware that the same is true with their computers and networks. A single hacker can scan thousands of computers looking for ways to access your private information in the time it takes you to eat lunch.
MYTH: “I know the security of my network and information is important, but all the solutions are too expensive and/or time consuming.”
FACT: While it is true that some network security products and services are very expensive and time consuming, you can find good network analysis tools that are very robust, efficient and effective, yet still affordable.
MYTH: “I can’t do anything about my network’s security because I’m not a technical wizard.”
FACT: While network security is a technical problem, a sound remote analysis report should provide a solution that is comprehensible to non-technical people and geeks alike. If it’s a true remote automated system you won’t have to download, install or configure anything. A good report will include a business analysis that explains technical issues in plain English with plenty of charts, graphs, and overviews to illustrate it. It must be easily comprehensible by non-technical business people and home users.
MYTH: “I know what is running on my computer and I am sure that it is secure.”
FACT: Only 2% of networks receive a perfect score on our security scans. That means 98% of them have one or more possible security threats or vulnerabilities. These threats could exist in your operating system, the software you run, your router/firewall or files.
MYTH: “I tested my network a few months ago, so I know it is secure.”
FACT: New security threats and vulnerabilities are discovered daily. Telspace has a database of security threats that grows by 5-10 new vulnerabilities every week. Sometimes we have even seen more than 80 new security threats crop up in a single month! Just because your network tested well this month, does not mean it will still be secure next month – even if you don’t change anything. You should frequently update your anti-virus software and analyse your security regularly.
MYTH: “Network and computer security is only important for large businesses.”
FACT: In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Whether you are a casual home user or a large enterprise, your computer contains valuable and sensitive information. This could be financial records, passwords, business plans, confidential files and any other private data. In addition to your private information, it is also important to protect your network from being used in denial of service attacks, as a relay to exploit other systems, as a repository for illegal software or files, and much more.
MYTH: “A “port scan’ is the same thing as a security analysis scan and some web sites already give me that for nothing.”
FACT: Actually a port scan and a security analysis scan are two very different things. In general terms your computer’s Internet connection has 65,535 unique service ports. These ports are used both by software running on your computer and by remote servers sending data to your computer (when you view a web page or check your email). A port scan will simply tell you which service ports are being used on your computer. It does not test any of these ports for security threats nor does it tell you where your network is vulnerable to possible hackers or attacks.
MYTH: “The best time to deal with network security is when a problem arises.”
FACT: The best time to deal with network security is right now, before a problem arises and to prevent you from ever becoming a victim. Think about it – the best time to lock the doors in your home is before a robbery occurs. Afterwards it is already too late, the damage has been done. This is why it is critical to analyse your network’s security now, to find and fix the vulnerabilities before a break-in happens.