"Cyber Security" is an Oxymoron - and That's Okay
Updated: Feb 10, 2020
(Just because I'm good with software, doesn't make me a good artist.)
I see it all too often, and there's a good chance it's happening to you right now. Anti-virus software is a major drag on system performance.
Recently, I met with two separate clients who each needed me to work on one of their computers. Between those two computers were eight (8!?) installed anti-virus programs.
There's a gross misrepresentation of cyber security in news media, beginning with their lack of awareness that "cyber security" is an oxymoron.
Listen to me. You and your data will never, EVER, be 100% guaranteed safe online. Just like you will never, EVER, be 100% guaranteed to reach any travel destination safely.
In fact, my analogy would be more accurate if you travelled everywhere by motorcycle.
"When it comes to accidents, it's not a matter of 'if,' but 'when,'" veteran riders will tell you.
I'd be really surprised if your data wasn't already compromised at some point in time. If you haven't been a specific target of a cyber attack, then, at the very least, you've probably had your data stolen during one of the larger hacks in human history - Blue Cross, Target, Home Depot and the like.
A good place to start checking if you've been hacked is:
There's also a good chance that the net impact on your life from being hacked has been zero.
I've personally been hacked too many times to count. My cards have been skimmed, my online accounts have been penetrated, and social media posts have been written without my permission. The unauthorized charges were covered by my banks, as were the ones stemming from the online accounts that were compromised, and the offending posts were deleted.
Stop being so afraid. Accept that you will be hacked, but also know that you'll be okay when it happens.
In the meantime, get rid 'em. All that security software on your computer.
Both of the aforementioned clients complained their computers were running exceptionally slow. Uninstalling Avast, Malware Bytes, Norton, McAfee and more of their cousins immediately, and dramatically improved system performance. Lag time diminished because all of a sudden those systems weren't busy throwing up useless notifications about constant background scanning and user input-required prompts asking about running services you've never heard of.
I wouldn't be so cavalier saying "get rid of 'em" if I had any faith that sacrificing your computer's resources would bolster your security, but I have no such faith.
Supporting my argument is one of those laptops that had 4 different security programs installed and running at the same time (I'm counting Windows Defender, which is included for all properly updated Windows machines version 7 - 10). That laptop, with its seemingly ironclad security, had 2 pieces of malware running amok in the system's files and browsers.
My client was unaware her data was being sent to Itdoesn'tmatterstan. I noticed the malicious files when I was addressing one of her needs - file management.
In this case, and in most situations, the user was/is their own best chance at preventing malware from being installed on their computer. Four different anti-virus programs were either asleep at the wheel or completely fooled.
Don't let yourself be forced or persuaded into downloading or executing something you don't want to, or navigating to a website you never asked to see. "Be vigilant" may sound generic or over-simplified, but it's really the best advice I can give you when it comes to online security. That's because nobody, and nothing, is better at keeping you safe than you.