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WV State Privacy Office

100 Dee Drive
Charleston, WV 25311

304-558-7000 Phone
304-558-7001 Fax

 Debunking Some Common Security Myths

West Virginia Executive Branch
Privacy Policy: Security Safeguards  

Debunking Some Common Security Myths

Question:

There’s so much online security information floating around that I don’t know what to believe. What’s true and what’s not? Help!

Answer:

According to US-CERT, the Federal government’s computer emergency readiness team, there are some common security myths that may affect your online security practices. If you understand the truth, you can make better decisions about online security. Here are some common myths (drawn from US-CERT Cyber Security Tip ST06-002):

  • Myth: Anti-virus software and firewalls are 100% effective.

Truth: Anti-virus software and firewalls are important elements to protecting your information. However, these elements are not guaranteed to protect you from an attack. Combining these technologies with good security habits is the best way to reduce your risk. Remember to lock or log off your computer when leaving your desk, even for a moment.

  • Myth: Once software is installed on your computer, you do not have to worry about it anymore.

Truth: Vendors may release patches or updated versions of software to address problems or fix vulnerabilities. These should be installed as soon as possible. Making sure that you have the latest virus definitions for your anti-virus software is especially important. Contact the OT Service Desk if you have any questions about software patches or your anti-virus software, or for assistance in downloading or installing antivirus software. 

  • Myth: There is nothing important on your machine, so you don’t need to protect it.

Truth: Your opinion about what is important may differ from an attacker's opinion. Additionally, your confidentiality agreement obligates you to protect all personally identifiable information (PII), even if it doesn’t seem important. Even if you do not store any PII or confidential information on your computer, an attacker who can gain control of your computer may be able to use it in attacks against other people.

  • Myth: When computers slow down, it means that they are old and should be replaced.

Truth: It is possible that running newer or larger software programs on an older computer could lead to slow performance, but you may just need to replace or upgrade a particular component (memory, operating system, etc.). Another possibility is that there are other processes or programs running in the background. If your computer has suddenly become slower, you may be experiencing a denial-of-service attack or have spyware on your machine. Call the OT Service Desk if you notice any material changes to your computer’s performance. They can determine the cause and verify that there is no malicious code involved that could expose PII.


Note: Your agency/bureau/department/division may have specific requirements – always check your policies and procedures. If you have questions, contact your Privacy Officer.


 
 

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