5 Cyber Safety Tips for Older Adults

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Posted on: 29 June 2016 by Keira Walter

If you are afraid you might be attacked by malicious hackers while online - do read our simple guidelines to help you survive the Internet!

There’s no wrong time to start using the internet. It’s one of the greatest ways to stay in contact with the people we love, especially if we have family that lives quite a ways away. The only problem with the internet is the amount of anonymity it offers. Shady characters often use the internet to extort personal information, even stealing from unassuming, innocent people. Learning the basics of web safety can help keep you protected against the ne’er do wells of the world.

1. Beware of Attachments

One of the most common ways to send malicious software or viruses to a recipient’s computer is through attachments. The user will click a link and download something, which they actually believe to be something far more harmless. Unless you can verify with absolute certainty that a sender is someone you know and trust, never download attachments. The same goes for software programs that you don’t recognize, like toolbars or utilities that serve no purpose. If you’re ever not sure, a quick Google search can help you ascertain whether or not a download is legitimate.

2. Learn to Recognize Scams

Social networks and email inboxes are often overflowing with scams. Sometimes it appears to be that you’ve won or inherited something. Sometimes people will claim to be representative of a company or service that you regularly use. People are doing this in an attempt to extort you, and you can’t let them win. As a general rule, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. You can always copy and paste a portion of a suspicious message into Google. If it’s a scam, the top results will show you.

3. Be Wary of Public WiFi

Free WiFi is great, but it often comes with a price. Anyone can access these networks, and because of that, nothing you do while connected to them is ever really secure. Consider using a VPN on your computer or mobile device when you’re online via public WiFi, such as at a hotel or a coffee shop. Using a VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is not as complicated as it seems. A great place to start is by reading the VPN reviews on SecureThoughts.

4. Keep Your Personal Information Private

There’s really no reason to post personal details anywhere on the internet, or send them to anyone via email. This includes your full name, address, phone number, or any banking information. If you can, avoid inputting them online entirely. If a trusted professional requires information from you, arrange to meet with them in person. If a loved one needs your address to send you a card in the mail or to come visit, you can always give them your address over a private phone call, rather than posting this information publicly.

5. Choose Difficult Passwords

One of the biggest vulnerabilities comes from having a password that’s easy to guess. If someone were trying to hack your accounts, and easy password makes the process effortless. You should always choose a difficult password that incorporates lowercase letters, uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols. If you find it difficult to remember your passwords, simply write them down and store them in a private location. If you ever forget, you can go get them. You should also change your passwords every few months, just to err on the side of caution.

 

The majority of people who use the internet will never fall victim to scams, but it never hurts to keep a watchful eye. Make sure your computer has a great antivirus software, and install the updates as they become available. This software will fight half the battle for you. Just be sure to keep a skeptical attitude about emails from unknown senders, or things that don’t seem to add up.  

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