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Cybersecurity Tips for Seniors

Senior citizens are prime targets for cybercriminals!

It is a well known fact that social media and the internet are great ways to enrich the lives of senior citizens. However, one area that is often ignored is teaching them cyber safety in protecting their identity and personal information. Senior care professionals and family caretakers can play a role in making their clients aware of the potential risks. Protecting our older adults online is all about planning ahead to ensure they don't become an easy target.

Consider and Implement These Tips for Online Safety

Stop-Think and Connect!

1.) Password Protect All Devices

Nearly half of seniors do not use the password feature on their devices leaving it open

to whoever may pick up the device. Providing a password will keep prying eyes out and

protect their information in case the device is stolen. Passwords should be at least 8

characters long and should contain a mix of letters, numbers and symbols. No personal

information should be used in creating the password. Passphrases are becoming a popular an safe alternative to passwords and are easy to remember. Keep it postive an something easy to remember like " I love rock and roll music" .Passwords/Passphrases

should be kept in a place away from the devices. It is strongly recommended to provide

a copy of their passwords to a trusted family member just in case they are lost. Many websites and apps offer two-step authentication to accounts providing a second layer of defense.

2.) Think Before Acting

Remind older adults to stop and think before they act. It is easy to panic when faced

with an urgent request. Remind them that before they act to get a second opinion. They

should be encouraged to ignore email and communication that appears urgent such as

a problem with a credit card, IRS or Social Security or bank account. Even an email

looks suspicious they should delete it. Clicking on links in email is often how scammers

get their personal information. They should avoid clicking on a link in an email or downloading an attachment unless they are expecting it from someone. Remind them

that scammers can get into their friends email accounts and send emails that appear

to be from them. Spam filters should be in place on all email accounts. Perhaps one of

the best email accounts to setup with excellent spam filters is a gmail account.

3.) Be Careful Sharing Information

Facebook is one of the biggest draws for seniors.However, remind them that not everyone is to be trusted! Only connect with people you know. Never provide information

of where you live with or your home address or those of your loved ones. Do not mention

on social media sites when you are on vacation or away from your home for any period

of time. If you are on vacation do not post pictures while you are away....wait until you

return to do your posting! Assist seniors to properly adjust their privacy settings to limit

who can see their information and avoid sharing their location. Always be careful with what you post and photos that you share! Before sharing a picture take a few minutes to

examine the background. Make sure you crop out photos that show a home address, license plate or any other information they could use.

4.) Employ Security Software

Most seniors will need assistance from a family member or health care professional for this step but it is crucial to keep them safe. Antivirus and Anti-spyware or malware software should be purchased from a reliable source and installed. It is advised not to

use "Free" versions. The software should be setup to run regularly and seniors should be

taught that if there is a warning from this software they are not to proceed until someone

is able to investigate it. They should also clear their browsing history at the end of their

sessions so they don't leave a trail of sensitive data. The default firewall for their operating system should be turned on. Consult your internet provider for additional

firewall features they may provide.

5.) Log Out.....many of us are guilty of not doing this!!

Recommend that seniors log out of apps and websites when we are done using them.

Leaving them open on their computer could make them vulnerable to security attacks.

This is especially important if they use an electronic device that is not theirs or in a

public place.

6.) Do's and Don'ts of Online Shopping

  • When using a new website for shopping read the review and see if other customers have had a positive experience

  • Links in emails, text and posts are often how cybercriminals try to steal your information. Avoid using these

  • Your personal information is like money: value it and protect it. When making an online purchase be alert to the type of information they are asking. Make sure it is necessary information to the transaction. You only need to fill out required fields at checkout!

  • Credit cards are the safest option to use when purchasing online. If there is a problem with the transaction you have protection from the credit card company. Make sure when you are making a purchase that it is on a secure website. In the URL it should have an https:// before the website name and not just an http:/. The "s" at the end indicates the site is using encryption when passing your credit card numbers.

  • Always read the return policy and other website information before making your purchase so you know what to expect.

As you introduce your senior to the wonderful world of technology make sure that you also implement the above mentioned safety tips. Introduce them slowly so they will remember them. Their online experience will only be as happy as the safety that is employed behind it!

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