Software Development

Some common cybersecurity myths, debunked

The internet is a scary place, so here's the truth about a few myths that can make your trip through the web a little safer.

Welcome to the internet. (Photo by Flickr user Tim Lucas, used under a Creative Commons license)

This editorial article is a part of Cybersecurity Month of's 2022 editorial calendar.

The internet is filled with myths.

From the good old Myspace chain letters that warned bad luck for not forwarding to the guaranteed virus from a LimeWire download, there’ve always been internet rules of thumb for how to surf the web — and how safe you are browsing it.

Here’s a look at some of those popular internet surfing myths.

Internet STDs

Pornography sites don’t generally have any more malware than other kinds of sites. Still, clicking on random links for free, high-definition porn puts you at risk of installing malware.

Incognito mode does not make you anonymous on the internet

Incognito mode stops your computer from saving search history, cookies, passwords and so on, but it doesn’t hide your IP address or operating system. Even in  incognito mode, you’re still sending data to the internet. If you want to browse anonymously, use a VPN  that encrypts and changes your real IP address. You can also use Tor, an open source software that routes your traffic through multiple servers to make it anonymous.

Viruses only affect laptops and PCs

We have minicomputers in our pockets now, and your phone technically can’t get a damaging computer program that copies itself when it runs, but that’s just semantics. Your phone can get malware, or an app can steal its data. Tik Tok‘s privacy policy is pretty upfront about being able to take content you create, even if you don’t end up uploading or saving it. The platform collects text, images and video from your device’s clipboard if you copy and paste content to or from the app, or share it with a third-party platform. For all the conspiracy theorists worried about cloning and being microchipped: Tik Tok even collects biometric data like faces and voiceprints.

Macs don’t get viruses

Macs do get viruses. When it was a popular thing to say they didn’t, the reality was more that Apple laptops and computers weren’t as popular as Windows ones. Hackers that made viruses thus weren’t as interested in creating ways to exploit the operating system. It was security through obscurity.

Now, it is true that Macs are less likely to get malicious software than Windows computers. But, again, it’s not impossible for Macs to get viruses — it’s just not as likely because of how Mac OS treats third-party applications.

There’s nothing valuable on my computer, so no one wants to hack me

In a previous article, John Rigney, cofounder and CTO of Locust Point-based cyber talent training company Point3 Security, stressed that bad actors can use your PC to hack others. Passwords and identifying information that might seem mundane to you can actually be used to steal your identity or hack another account of yours, like an online banking or social media account.

Do you come across any other frequent cyber myths that need to be debunked? Let us know at

Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation.
Companies: Point3 Security
Series: Cybersecurity Month 2022

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