Common Technology Myths Debunked

Myths can range from simply entertaining to surprisingly harmful. We're here to debunk some of the most common ones and share the truth about tech!

Myth: Using antivirus will completely prevent infections

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Doing computer repair, we heard this sentiment quite a bit. It sounds logical - an antivirus should protect your computer against viruses!

However no antivirus is 100% foolproof. Hundreds, even thousands, of new types of viruses and malware are released every day and can spread more rapidly than ever before. Security programs have to be able to keep up with the near-impossible task of identifying and protecting against countless new infections. Add to this newer types of infections, such as ransomware, that are almost impossible to protect against, and your antivirus program has a tough job.

While it should be part of your overall security strategy, an antivirus program is by no means the end all be all. Think of it like your house. You install locks on the doors (antivirus) to protect against most intruders. But those locks won't prevent someone smashing a window, or alert you to an intrusion. Locks, like antivirus programs, work in conjunction with other tools to offer robust security.

Many researchers even believe that antivirus programs are becoming less effective as cyber-criminals improve their attack strategies. "For many years, this antivirus approach was effective in preventing the compromise of many endpoints. The math was simple -- antivirus companies could identify a new malware entity, and get their signatures updated more quickly than the typical malware could make it across the internet.

Unfortunately, two major factors have greatly diminished the effectiveness of antivirus technology. First, malware can traverse the internet at a rate nobody ever imagined was possible. Today, a new virus can become widespread on the internet before the antivirus vendors even know it exists. Second, virus authors have learned to produce variants, which are version of their illicit programs that function the same way, but have deliberate changes in their signature to evade antivirus programs. Because much of our malware is now distributed in kit form, even a novice can produce a malware variant and get it out on the internet very quickly," (CSOonline.com).

Antivirus also can't do anything to protect against human error. Clicking on a malicious link in a scam email, entering sensitive information into a bogus website, or downloading an infected file are all things antivirus can't prevent. Staying up-to-date on new scams and attack methods is far more effective than relying on antivirus alone.

Learn how to spot, avoid, and remove malware/viruses.

Myth: Magnets near your computer will erase the hard drive

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This myth has prevailed since the days of floppy disks. Back when they were widely used to store data, a magnet of just about any strength could wipe saved information if it came near the floppy. However with newer storage technology such as hard disks and flash drives, it would take an insanely powerful magnet to cause any damage. Bill Frank, the executive director of the CompactFlash association, states "there's nothing magnetic in flash memory [such as a USB stick], so a magnet won't do anything...a magnet powerful enough to disturb the electrons in flash would be powerful enough to suck the iron out of your blood cells," (PCworld.com).

The same holds true for the hard drives you'll find inside your computer or used for external storage. Unless you have access to a laboratory degausser or government tools, you don't have the ability to damage a drive with magnets.

Myth: Cloud technology is expensive and insecure

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Cloud technology has exploded recently and is everywhere you look. As internet access has become faster, easier, and more widespread, cloud providers have taken advantage and the technology has improved in quality and diminished in cost.

Cloud storage providers, like the well-known company Dropbox, offer affordable, scalable storage that is available from anywhere on any device - something not possible in years past. Previously, if you wanted to store a large amount of data, you had to purchase, maintain, and secure a server or hard drive(s). To run programs across multiple devices, it had to be done from an on-premise server which again needed to be purchased, maintained, and secured. Cloud helps relieve the high costs of buying and maintaining large amounts of hardware, which is a great benefit for consumers and businesses. The ability to only purchase the storage amount needed helps cut costs as well.

Greg Deckler, a director at Microsoft, performed an in-depth experiment comparing the cost of cloud versus on-premise solutions. Even with many generosities given to on-premise, he still came up with a 30% apples-to-apples cost savings using cloud. Check out his investigation here.

Cloud services allow us to easily and inexpensively use only what we need, have access from anywhere, and shift the responsibility of maintenance to its provider. And while your company may have a person or team responsible for security, cloud providers devote immense energy to their security. If their services are compromised, it could put their organization out of business, so they take it very seriously.

You can probably tell we're big fans of cloud technology, and we want others to get all the benefits too! Learn more about utilizing the cloud in your business.

Myth: Cyber-criminals only go after big companies

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Many executives are under the false assumption that they aren't valuable targets just because they aren't running a huge corporation. However, attackers know that the smaller an organization, the easier they are to target simply because they don't have access to the resources enterprises do. A company like Walmart, for example, has a massive cybersecurity team working 24/7 to prevent attacks. On the other hand, your average small-medium business has maybe one or two IT people working 40 hours a week. And those IT people have other responsibilities besides security. With less security capabilities, it's much easier for an attacker to successfully penetrate SMBs.

Small companies are frequently the gateway to larger targets too. Many large companies do business with smaller ones, and this can lead to trouble. The Home Depot hack of 2014 that saw 56 million records stolen happened using one of their vendor’s stolen log-on credentials. It ended up costing Home Depot $62 million. A recent ransomware attack against producers of the Netflix show Orange is the New Black occurred when one of the show’s third-party post-production vendors was hacked.

Don't discount your security thinking you'll fly under the radar!

Myth: Older generations are inherently worse with technology

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This is actually a dangerous myth, as it appears to inhibit older workers' ability to get hired for certain jobs.

"A recent Dropbox survey of more than 4,000 IT workers found that people over age 55 are actually less likely than their younger colleagues to find using tech in the workplace stressful...On average, people 55 and up used 4.9 forms of technology per week, compared to the overall average of 4.7 per week, the survey found. Only 13% of respondents aged 55 and older reported having trouble working with multiple devices, compared to 37% of 18-to-34-year olds," (TechRepublic.com)

We tend to associate younger generations with being tech-savvy since mass technology has been around them their entire lives. However older generations have spent decades watching and using emerging technology. They've experienced all the same technology young people have and much more.

It really comes down to a willingness and desire to learn. If a senior doesn't care about using Microsoft Word or programming, he's not going to put effort towards it. And the same applies to a person of any age in any subject. But perpetuating the myth that seniors are inherently technically illiterate is damaging and incorrect!

Myth: The internet and the World Wide Web are the same thing

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Close, but not quite accurate. The World Wide Web uses the internet, but the internet would still exist without the WWW. The Web is made up of servers which deliver web pages, and clients (like Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Safari) that display web pages. The World Wide Web only refers to websites. But the internet is used by other programs that have nothing to do with the WWW, such as email, internet messaging programs, telnet, and more.

It can be thought of like the earth - the internet is our planet, and the World Wide Web is all the houses that exist on it. There are lots of other things on Earth besides houses, and if the houses disappeared the planet would still exist and function. But if the earth (internet) disappeared, so would everything on it!

Myth: Device manufacturers purposely make old models slow down to push you towards purchasing a new version

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It sure feels like this myth is a fact sometimes. You bought a phone a year or two ago, and now the manufacturer is releasing a new version. Suddenly you notice apps slowing down, freezing, and other unusual issues. But assuming that "planned obsolescence" is the reason everyone's old devices start behaving differently isn't (usually) the case.

When newer models come out, developers begin designing and optimizing apps for the updated versions - leaving your older technology in the dust. Unless they dedicate resources to keeping old versions supported, you'll notice more issues than before. So while it's not intentional, older version slowdowns can be an unfortunate side effect of new model releases.

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