Throughout history, humanity has made assumptions in whose validity people had been confident, but later discovered were false. Until Galileo, everyone thought the world was flat and had no reason to think otherwise. Most of us don’t even suspect that our own assumptions may be flawed and take their truth value for granted.
Every information security course graduate knows that the computer world is full of myths and half-facts that people are sure are real. But there is often real danger inherent in these beliefs. So, we here want to debunk the myths of the cyber world.
We’ll tell you in advance that breaking these myths could turn your world upside down, and some of them may even scare you when it comes to privacy on the Web and what people want to hide.
Ready? Let’s get started!
Myth #1 – Browsing “Incognito” is Completely Anonymous.
You’re probably stopping yourself and asking, “Wait a minute … what?!”
When you press Control + Shift + N, a private browsing window opens, and many people are sure that the sites they surf in this window are for their eyes only. But that is not the case.
On the main screen which you probably won’t see is written, “You can now browse privately, and other people using this device will not see your activity, but downloads and bookmarks will still be saved.” That’s because our computers save everything. Every action we take is recorded and every file is eventually saved, whether we like it or not.
But the next paragraph reads, “Your activity may still be shown to: sites you’ve entered, your employer, your school, and your ISP.”
So contrary to popular belief, you cannot hide – especially if you surf within an internal network of any organization. The Network Administrator can detect in one second suspicious activity – even if it is conducted incognito.
Myth # 2 – No one can catch you on the Dark Web.
The Dark Web – an Internet Underworld invented in 1997 by the US Navy as a defense tool for US military intelligence – is now used for underground and illegal activities, particularly pedophilia, drug trafficking, cyber attacks, and even the ordering of hired killers.
Many learn of the dark web for the first time while in a cyber course. Dark web network browsing works as follows: When you access a site through a column (a browser through which people surf the dark web), you pass through a large number of nodes (positions defined as a column server) around the world, until you reach the requested site. This rerouting really disguises your surfing, allowing you to surf the dark web in complete anonymity.
But is this indeed absolute anonymity? At first, it seems to be, but law enforcement agencies have found creative ways to go in and locate surfers who commit illegal activities on the dark web. Cyber police units have their own nodes where they can control and manage registry and the transitions between nodes. The first or last server passed must be a police server for activity to be detected. Police operate as secret agents across the dark web, and as a result dozens if not hundreds of criminals who have tried to sell lethal services, drugs, and pedophilia have been caught. Nevertheless, many users have found a way to bypass the methods of cyber defense units through the use of VPNs that disguise the original location from which they surf.
Some say that the only way to surf the Internet in a completely anonymous way is to not surf the Internet at all.
Myth # 3 – Turning off GPS on your device means you will not be found.
Today each of us has a mobile device with a variety of applications, most of which constantly use the GPS installed on the device. Applications, such as Facebook, WAZE, and Instagram, constantly identify our location, recording and reporting where we are at any given moment.
So many people who want to keep their privacy turn off the GPS component on their mobile device. But does that work?
The answer is simple- no.
In a cyber course, students learn that turning off GPS limits the exposure of our geographic details, but not completely. When we are on the move, and our Wi-Fi is on, the device knows how to save a location and knows what our location is according to the modem it is trying to connect to or, alternatively, is in its domain.
So is the solution to turn off Wi-Fi as well? Is that what will protect us from revealing our location?
This question, too, has a clear answer– no. Most of us use mobile devices mainly for surfing the Internet, but what most people forget is that before mobile phones were smartphones, they were phones. In order for a mobile device to make and receive calls it must be registered to a cellular network. Once every 90 seconds the cellular device sends a signal to the nearest antenna and thereby “identifies” itself with the cellular company as a device that can make and receive a call.
Every expenditure and call, as well as every incoming and outgoing message, are recorded in the cellular companies’ systems, and the data, if necessary, are revealed.
Myth # 4 – My passwords are protected.
Did you know that the most common password on the Internet today is also the easiest to hack? Runner up for easiest to hack is 123456789, and in first we have 123456!
Our passwords are our prized possessions in our digital lives. Without them, we would not be able to sign in to Facebook, our bank account, or any account and application that requires pre-registration.
Today, a hacker who has taken an information security course can use a USB flash drive that connects to a computer to steal all the passwords stored on your computer, including the e-mails you register with.
Many websites expose users to personal-data and password theft, and once the site has been hacked, that personal information becomes fair game for everyone on the Internet.
Facebook, for example, is known to buy its hacked lists to protect its users. Other sites, such as Ashley Madison (a dating site for married people), have been hacked and users’ emails exposed online.
Another method of stealing passwords that many people fall into is phishing.
A phishing site looks exactly like another site (such as Facebook), and in this way tempts the user to try to enter the site by entering an email address and password. The hacker on the end receives and records this information, while the user winds up at a fake site.
Did someone you don’t know send you a link? Don’t click on the link. Even if it seems to you completely reliable, it’s always better access the site you’ve been prompted to visit by manually typing the URL or searching for the site on Google, and check the credibility of the message. Also, don’t fall for the e-mail that announces that you’re now a millionaire and that all you have to do is click and sign here, here, and here.
So how do you know if your email has been compromised or your password stolen?
The site Have I been pwned? (https://haveibeenpwned.com/) gives you the option to enter an email address and check if that address has been hacked. If so – it’s highly recommended that you change your passwords.
Myth # 5 – Antivirus protects me completely.
Since the computer revolution, antivirus has become a mandatory product for every home-computer system and every laptop. Antivirus software should give preliminary protection to a computer from malware or Trojans.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of types of anti-virus software out there. Some are stronger, some less powerful, and some of them, surprisingly, even contain malware that extracts information from our computer.
So does antivirus protect us against viruses?
If you have come this far in the article, you already know that the answer is – no. A virus can penetrate your computer if your antivirus software is out of date, and virus providers can prepare the virus to infect your computer. Also, viruses can infiltrate your computer not only from downloaded infected files, but from USB drives that can transmit a virus that your antivirus software cannot detect.
Many describe the Internet and cyber world as a glacier – 10% visible and 90% hidden. The majority of the population believes these five myths and at some point face the music. So, it’s important to know what is right and what’s not, but the fact is that every day, the top experts learn more and more about networks, and more myths are bound to surface.
What will be the next myth to be debunked? Time will tell.