When you work in the IT space, you get to hear some funny things – technology myths, conspiracies, and other rumors that are shared around the water cooler. We’ve heard it all, and we wanted to share some of these myths so you don’t get tripped up by them.

Myth 1: You’ll Ruin a Smartphone’s Battery by Charging It Overnight

Chalk this one up to “once upon a time.” While a smartphone’s battery was once vulnerable to overcharging, improvements in the battery have made it so that keeping it plugged in increases the stress on it, slightly, as the battery activates a “trickle charge” mode that keeps it topped off without causing too much damage.

However, you aren’t out of the woods yet. Trickle charge mode can cause the device to heat up, much like playing a mobile game or watching Netflix on it would. Overheating should be a concern, as it adds undue wear and tear to your device. Phone manufacturers have even recommended that users not use cases on their high-end phones, as locking in that heat just makes the problem worse.

As a result, it makes more sense to be concerned about overheating than it does to fret about overcharging. Some experts recommend that, while charging your device overnight, you remove the case. Others recommend that you keep it out of your bed, where your blankets and pillows can help to trap in the heat and wear away your phone. It is much better to stash it on a cool, flat surface or dish of some sort.

On a related note, avoid using cheap, third-party charging cables. There’s a reason that only certain cables are certified or recommended by the manufacturer.

Myth 2: You’ll Never Catch a Virus on a Mac

In fairness, this one is almost accurate. While macOS is relatively free of malware (for reasons we’ll get into in a moment) they technically don’t get viruses… but it also helps that viruses are quickly falling out of fashion. Windows 10 doesn’t get very many viruses either, thanks to its integrated security and the fact that the computer virus is quickly becoming obsolete.

However, Macs are still vulnerable to other cybersecurity threats, including phishing attacks, ransomware and other varieties of malware. The other contributing factor to why threats against Macs seem so rare is a simple cost/benefit ratio. Windows PCs have a market share of 91.75 percent – which leaves a relatively small sliver left for Macs. Hackers are aware of this, and realize that it is more profitable for them to target Windows devices (or create attacks that aren’t picky about the system they target).

So, it really doesn’t matter which system you run, there are attacks out there that will target you.

Myth 3: Blowing on Video Game Cartridges Makes Them Work Better

This one was mentioned a few times when we asked our techs about IT myths, so it only seemed right to include it. In the mid-1980s, many households had the Nintendo Entertainment System, which would play video games housed on massive (by today’s standards) five-inch plastic cartridges. However, these cartridges wouldn’t always boot the game on the first try. Children and teenagers everywhere fell into the habit of removing the cartridge and blowing into it, in theory removing the dust that had presumably collected on the connectors.

In actuality, these problems were caused by the connectors in the cartridge not aligning properly, meaning that all that needed to be done was removing the game and re-inserting it. Ironically, the accepted fix of blowing into the cartridge probably did more harm than good, as the water vapor contained in human breath could damage the sensitive components inside the game cartridge.

Myth 4: I Don’t Need Security If I Don’t Have Anything Important

Okay, sure – you may not keep important files or what have you on your computer’s storage. However, this isn’t the only kind of data and information that cybercriminals are interested in.

Do you use your computer to check your email? Your social media? Have you shopped online, or taken care of bills through your computer? Have you accessed a storage solution that holds business files and software solutions? If the answer to any of these was “yes”, you are most likely exposing your data to a figurative ton of risk.

Consider what could happen if a cybercriminal were to gain access to your email accounts – presumably, they would then have access to just about any account you had opened. This would give them the power to lock you out of your accounts, transfer control of them to another email address, and potentially even access your work-related data (and as a result, your customers’ and clients’ data). Long story short… secure your computer.

Myth 5: Google Gives Paid Preferential Treatment

We’ve all run a Google search before, which means that we’ve all seen the results that have a little “AD” icon annotating them. This simply means that the business (or website) has set up a budget with Google to appear at the top of search results for certain queries or in certain areas in an attempt to attract more web traffic. While this actually is a worthwhile investment for businesses, we users have become jaded to “adver-content” and will ultimately ignore these first results. Due to this, only about 20 percent of traffic will actually click through one of these ads, but that is still enough for the ads to be beneficial to websites and profitable to Google.

That being said, there are also the results that you see that aren’t paid for, and therefore are given no boost from Google Ads. These organic results are why SEO has real value, as you can’t pay to appear there (meaning that if you stop paying for ads without engaging in any other SEO practices, you won’t appear in searches).

So, how do you rank organically? Unfortunately, there’s no magic bullet to SEO success, but a good rule of thumb is to keep up on your content creation (making sure it’s quality content) and building a user-friendly site. As Google’s primary goal is to deliver the best results for each search, you have to make sure you are compliant to the many, many considerations that make up search engine optimization.

Myth 6: A Firewall is the Only Defense You Need

Like so many other things, our perception of what a firewall does has been skewed by popular culture. Is the unlikely team of heroes getting hacked? All their computer whiz needs to do to stop the attack is to restore the firewall (generally at the last possible second).

While a firewall is a critical part of any IT security strategy, it isn’t some panacea that will protect you from any cyber issue. In reality, all that a firewall will stop is a single type of malware that typically spreads from one computer to another. A sufficient security solution will offer protection against a variety of threats. Yes, this will include a firewall, but also content filtering, spam prevention, and a centralized antivirus and antimalware that all work together to protect your system.

Myth 7: Bill Gates Has a Master Plan to Depopulate the World

In a list of wild IT conspiracy theories, this little doozy simply had to make an appearance: apparently, Bill Gates (of Microsoft fame) is dedicating his massive fortune to the goal of reducing the world’s population.

These theories sound like the plot of a 007 movie (so perhaps we’ll see Lashana Lynch foil some similar dastardly plots during her tenure with the codename). Some theories include that Gates is using the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to assist governments in developing assorted means of eliminating much of the world’s population. While none of these plans involves a laser positioned on the moon, theories do involve slipping chemicals into the water supply, producing fake vaccines, and a ray gun that sterilizes people.

Fortunately, these theories have all been debunked many times, and if we’re to be honest, Gates is far too busy trying to donate his vast fortune to charitable causes. Since 1994, he has provided these charities with over $60 billion, and has supported research into diseases, water sanitation, and childhood mortality.

However, it would still be neat to see a nerdy, soft-spoken villain suddenly announce his nefarious plans in the middle of a TED talk. Maybe in the next 007 film?

What myths or misconceptions do people have about your industry? Share them in the comments!

July 22, 2019