5 Things You Might Be Getting Wrong About Cybersecurity
Are free VPNs safe for personal use? Do HTTPS websites really protect you from malware? Let's bust some common misconceptions in the world of cybersecurity.
Cybersecurity is one of the biggest buzzwords in the digital age, and it’s encouraging that people understand the importance of safeguarding themselves online. In fact, 62% of people in the Asia-Pacific region feel that they could potentially become a victim of cybercrime1, to say nothing of the billions of dollars’ worth of economic damage that cyberattacks already cause each year.
So, yes - nobody wants to end up as the next victim of a phishing or ransomware attack, which is why we look for the best ways to protect ourselves. But because it’s so easy for misconceptions to be passed along through hearsay, we’ve picked out five that people might have about cybersecurity. So, without further ado, let’s bust some myths!
Myth #1: Public WiFi Networks are safe because other people are using them too.
Reality: Public WiFi Networks are highly vulnerable to cyberattacks.
As the saying goes, it’s all in the name, and by name, we’re referring to the fact that these WiFi networks are public.
Among other things, this means it’s a simple task for anyone to connect to them, including would-be cybercriminals, but that’s not the only reason that they’re risky to use. Rather, it’s because we can’t tell at a glance which public networks are safe and which are compromised by cybercriminals.
To make things worse, there are often little to no security features on these networks to begin with, meaning they can potentially leak your personal information (such as passwords) or expose you to malware. In a nutshell, it’s advisable to be extremely cautious when using them, or better yet, don’t use them at all – prevention is always better than cure.
Myth #2: Only certain computers need antivirus software
Reality: No brand or model of computer is 100% immune to malware
When in doubt, it’s always better to err on the side of caution, and nowhere is this more relevant (not to mention crucial!) than in the realm of cybersecurity. Today’s hackers are a truly devious bunch, so despite how secure a device is touted to be, you should always have reliable malware protection installed on it as soon as possible.
Speaking of which, did you also notice that we’ve been using the term “malware” instead of “virus” in this article so far? That’s because today’s cyber threats come in a plethora of different forms, and a “virus” is but one of them. From information-nabbing ransomware to sneaky trojan horses, worms and more, cybersecurity experts now describe these collectively as “malware”, with “malware protection” being the corresponding term for protective utilities like CyberProtect.
Myth #3: Free VPNs are safe enough for personal use
Reality: Free VPNs often come with limitations. Some might even collect and sell your information to third-parties.
In this day and age, we’re all about value and convenience, and unfortunately, wanting to get the best bang for our buck can make us susceptible to cybercrime.
Case in point, many of us might already be familiar with Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs for short. Basically, these not only encrypt your internet traffic when you use them but allow you to hide your online presence and identity from others as well.
If that sounds like a great thing to have against would-be cybercriminals, you’d be correct – it is. However, where the problems start is when we prioritise value above security by using free VPN services. Unlike paid VPNs, many of these tend to have lower encryption standards in addition to strict limitations on bandwidth, speed and server locations, meaning you’ll probably have less-than-ideal experiences while using them.
More importantly, some free VPNs might even collect your personal information to sell to third parties. So, while we might have to fork out real money for them, paid VPNs are usually the way to go, as they typically offer better performance and privacy protection.
Myth #4: All “https” or “secure” websites are 100% safe to use
Reality: These “secure” sites can still be infected with malware or have other digital vulnerabilities.
Suppose you want to send some well-wishes to a friend living overseas. You could opt to send your message on a postcard, but that would mean that anyone who sees the postcard along the way can easily see (or steal) any personal information detailed on it – that’s HTTP. In contrast, HTTPS adds an envelope over your message and also encrypts it, so even if someone does get a hold of your message during transit, they can’t read anything it contains.
In other words, HTTPS (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure) websites do offer greater security than HTTP websites in general. However, they also provide no guarantee that the destination itself is safe, as a HTTPS website is still fundamentally vulnerable to malware and other cyber threats.
For ease of reference, you can tell a HTTPS site from a HTTP one by the padlock icon located next to their URL, but neither should you assume that it’s 100% safe because of it. Specifically, HTTPS sites offer no protection against phishing attacks, where cybercriminals coax users into providing their personal information by employing a variety of tricks.
Myth #5: Parental Control apps don’t offer cybersecurity features.
Reality: They often go hand-in-hand.
Every parent wants the best for their kids, and that involves keeping them safe from the nastier side of the Internet too. Sure enough, inappropriate or adult content is right there on the list of parental concerns, with 86% of Singaporean parents worried about their children being exposed to such material2.
Yet, while these parents are rightly concerned, what we should also be looking at is the misconception that parental control and cybersecurity are separate discussions. Because of this, many people, not just parents believe parental control apps don’t offer cybersecurity features.
Fortunately, that isn’t the case. If you look in the right places, there are malware protection solutions out there that not only come with in-built parental control benefits, but also offer VPN and secure browsing features for your children’s devices.
Enjoy both speed and security with StarHub Safety Suite!
Many thanks for keeping us company, and we hope we’ve managed to clear up some of these common misconceptions for you. Above all, cybersecurity is about safeguarding yourself and your loved ones, and it’s advisable to be as well-equipped as you can. To that end, make sure to check out the other products available within the StarHub Safety Suite – there are currently four in total, and CyberProtect’s just one of them!
1: Source: F-Secure Consumer Research Survey, APAC, July, 2022
2: Source: F-Secure Consumer Research Survey, Singapore, July, 2022