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The Four Most Dangerous Security Myths

Network security is all about nightmares. As organizations have become increasingly dependent on their networks and the Internet to provide that essential link of data, capital and business intelligence, they have also opened themselves up to potential risk – potentially immense risks.

The litany of companies that have been burned by hackers, worms, viruses and simple human error has made organizations wary of the perils of the networked economy. There's so much out there in the digital ether that can jump up and bite you. On the other hand, says Justin Peltier, a senior security consultant with Peltier Associates and leader of Web hacking seminars for the Computer Security Institute, there are also a lot of myths out there.

"Network security has a particularly affinity for myths," he says. "It's hard to change an opinion once it's made, and a lot of IT and security professionals have based their opinions on received wisdom. They've heard about security risks, but they haven't tried it for themselves. Some of these opinions might have been based on reality but are no longer valid, and some is just based on what we've been told."

What they've been told is often only partly true, if at all, he says. It's often based on misconceptions and preconceptions. These myths can lull organizations into a false sense of security or distract them from the real business at hand. Either way, they are legion, though Peltier says that any organization serious about security can address the handful the biggest and most egregious myths through a combination of experience and common sense.

"If you look at most other disciplines, you see facts and statistics to back things up," he says. "That's not always true about security. It's not enough to just hear about something, you have to check it out for yourself."

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