Cybersecurity advise for seniors

Cybersecurity advise for seniors: How Seniors Can Stay Safe Online

Want to keep your grandpa, grandma, or parents safe in the tricky expanse of the internet? Are you an older adult who’d like to take precautions to protect yourself from today’s advanced cyber threats? Welcome, you’re right where you need to be. The elderly tend to be or seem like an easier target for online attacks, because of a perceived lack of tech-savviness, and the statistics, unfortunately, show that many such cases are successful for hackers. Today, cyber fraud is believed to deprive the elderly and their families of up to $36 billion a year, with crimes getting so sophisticated to detect that every generation is falling victim. To reverse this state of affairs, here are a few cyber security tips for elderly citizens: 

1. Use a strong password unrelated to special dates

“12345” or “7777” and other such frail passwords simply won’t cut it today. Nor will your birth date or personal information that someone close to you could easily figure out. We understand that memory may not be its best as the years take their toll, hence the inclination towards simple passwords that are much easier to remember.

However, the easier a password is then the simpler it is to crack it. In fact, did you know that hackers today have technology that can guess 100 billion passwords in a second? It’s a scary online world we live in. Fortunately, our community senior living service recommends the following password management best practices to keep you safe: 

  • It should be no less than 8 characters
  • Mixt it up. Include special characters, lower and uppercase letters
  • Don’t use family members’ names. Generate your password randomly without meaning
  • Use a password manager for added security 
  • Don’t save your password on a shared device

2. Don’t give out your information via email 

How common is email phishing? Well, over 15 billion spam emails are sent out daily. The lion’s share of them is meant to steal confidential data like credit card information. With so many spam emails flooding the internet, a spam filter alone might not be enough to protect you. Malicious emails may still slip through the cracks. 

For our assisted living communities, here’s what we have to say as far as preventing email threats is concerned: 

  • Don’t click or resend. Received an email from an unfamiliar address asking you to click or share a link to get a free giveaway? Don’t do either. Hit the trash button
  • Don’t download email attachments if they are from an unfamiliar sender
  • Install an up-to-date antivirus to watch your six
  • Report suspicious emails if you are not too sure without performing any of the requested actions

3. Know how to spot replica websites

Many seniors get duped online by way of fake or replica websites. These work to mimic an official website, such as your bank’s, and can even pass for the real deal if you don’t pay close attention. 

So how can you check if a website is legit? Luckily, there are many dead giveaways you can spot with a keen eye. For example, scammers like to use domain names that almost look like the real deal but aren’t e.g. (notice the use of zeros instead of the letter O). Scammers are counting on you to miss these little details. Also, you want to be cautious of HTTP addresses or others that aren’t secure. Grammar and spelling errors may also indicate something fishing is in the offing.

Ultimately, to get around the problem of fake websites and safeguard cyber security for seniors, we recommend visiting a brand’s official website directly by looking it up or typing up the official web address in the search bar. Avoid getting there via third-party links which are likely to send you elsewhere. 

4. Finetune privacy settings on social media

Social media has become a goldmine for the conniving to exploit. A lot of people share information that could be used to steal their identity, including details such as:

  • Pet names
  • Home town
  • Residential address
  • Date of birth, and more

In a nutshell, there’s a lot of PII ammunition online that can be exploited, which is why it is important that seniors finetune the privacy settings on their accounts. For instance, Facebook offers great customization to this effect. Users can set specific visibility of posts to certain groups such as friends and family, among others in their social circles that you can trust.

That being said, it’s also crucial for elders to avoid accepting “friend requests” from unfamiliar persons on social media, and to watch the type of posts they interact with online. 

5. Change default details on home WiFi devices

Home devices and routers often come with the manufacturer’s default password and usernames. These are usually quite similar on a mass scale which compromises the safety of your home networks. While newer devices today now include unique passwords and SSIDs, you can never know for sure so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Before plugging into a new router or attaching any of your IoT devices, the first thing you should do is rename the network (SSID) and choose a strong password. Fortunately, we’ve already covered password management best practices among the internet safety tips for seniors that we’ve discussed so far. ( Quick tip: IoT- internet of things- covers any technology you can connect to the WiFi device, and that includes smart TVs, voice assistants, and digital healthcare devices among others).

Walk away and ask for help

Does a deal sound too good to be true? It probably is. While it’s true that old products can enjoy massive discounts to make room for newer arrivals, what’s probably false is that you may get the latest iPhone model at 90% off. So always think twice about such huge “offers.” Our senior community also recommends requesting help from a more tech-savvy family member if you aren’t too sure about something on the internet. If you found these internet safety tips for seniors useful, there’s plenty more where that came from. Feel free to peruse our blog to learn how to solve even more senior care challenges

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