Authored by Charles Green Photo by Centre for Ageing Better
The internet can be scary, especially if you’re old enough to remember how rotary phones used to work! It becomes even more frightening when you look at a study conducted by Consumer Affairs, which shows that reports of financial crimes against seniors are on the rise.
Looking at these reports, it makes sense for you to want to protect yourself by learning cybersecurity tips that can help keep you safe online. In this article, you’ll learn all the tips you need to do so and more. But before that, let’s look at the most common online threats.
Common Threats Facing Senior Citizens Online Today
While a mere look at this list may make you feel nervous and want to unplug your devices, worry not, as most cyber-attacks are easily preventable. All that’s needed to keep them at bay is plain old common sense, some basic education, and access to the right tools.
Examples of common threats facing seniors today include the following:
- Identity Theft: It involves using other personally identifiable information, e.g., official name and address, credit card, and social security number, without their permission.
- Malware refers to a computer program designed to steal data, damage a computer, or financially exploit senior citizens. Spyware, trojans, and ransomware are examples of common types of malware.
- Online Scams: Hackers are always trying to invent new ways to deceive unsuspecting computer users. These techniques typically lead to the hacker making off with your money and/or personal information. They execute these attacks using online dating profiles, text messages, scam emails, and even social media accounts.
- Data Breaches: A data breach occurs when your personal information gets released to dark web servers and the general public. Several data breaches have occurred successfully in the past few years and affected millions of LinkedIn and Facebook users.
Tips You Can Use to Protect Yourself Against Cyber Attacks
When it comes to cyberspace, it’s best to think of it as a freeway: you’ll need to navigate it defensively if you’re to come out unscathed. As is the case with using a safety belt, implementing some basic online measures can guarantee your safety online.
These measures will lead to a safer and more enjoyable internet experience. Below are the top tips senior citizens can use to protect themselves against cyberattacks.
1. Tackle Password and Account Security
Enabling multifactor authentication and learning good password hygiene for online accounts are two powerful but simple ways to enhance your internet security. Make sure to use unique, lengthy passwords for every account to benefit from optimal password protection.
Reusing your passwords makes it easier for hackers to gain control of your entire online presence. If you’re unsure of your ability to remember all your passwords, research the best password managers to simplify this for you.
2. Share with Care
Exercise caution when sharing your personal details online, especially when using social media accounts. An important point to note is that the more information you post online, the easier it becomes for a hacker to use this information against you.
For example, a hacker can use the available information to access your data, steal your identity, or commit other crimes, such as stalking. Sharing with care involves understanding that you don’t always have to answer honestly when a website asks for your personal information.
3. Data Destruction
For most people, ‘data destruction’ is a term that lacks any positive connotation. It’s, therefore, normal to assume that data will get destroyed when a device falls and you don’t have a backup to help restore it. In the case of modern computing, data destruction involves safely disposing of your old technology in a way that the information hard drives are completely destroyed. It’s a measure that ensures that your data won’t fall into the hands of hackers or unscrupulous people.
It’s recommended that you have a data destruction expert do this for you when dumping or disposing of old phones and computers. You need this service to ensure your information won’t fall into the wrong hands.
4. Shop Online and Access Your Social Networking Accounts Safely
Fake shopping sites are a common method used to steal information online. Running a search for trusted online vendors can assist in protecting you against fake sites. Go through the reviews posted and steer clear of those having negative reviews.
Additionally, you should only use a credit card when shopping online and try to check for fraudulent activity in your cards wherever possible. The same holds for social networking accounts: not everyone in your timeline is trustworthy.
5. Consider Support
If you’re a senior citizen living alone or are on your own, consider getting yourself a second set of eyes and ears. You can ask for support from tech-savvy grandchildren and adult family members.
6. Pass It On
Surveys by the FTC have established that senior citizens are more likely to report losing money on financial crimes related to lottery scams, sweepstakes, and friend impersonations than younger ones.
To educate yourself more on these scams and how to protect yourself, make sure to bookmark https://consumer.ftc.gov/features/pass-it-on.