Our world has very rapidly become a world of technology. This is both a blessing and a curse. It is wonderful to be able to stay in touch with our friends and family at the touch of a button. However, technology has also opened the door for cyber attacks that target our identities, our finances, and other major aspects of our lives.
People who have grown up during the technology boom are more or less equipped to navigate the cyber world with minimal risk. They know what to avoid and how to protect themselves. Seniors however have been determined to be more vulnerable to these attacks simply because they have never been taught how to stay safe. Here are some simple tips for keeping yourself and your loved ones safe online:
1. Get antivirus and malware protection for your devices. There are free products such as Avast Antivirus and MalwareBytes that are available to everyone. There are also more sophisticated systems of protection that people can invest in as well like Norton. They protect you against attacks you cannot see or avoid in any other way.
2. Be aware of common scams. Watch out for emails about winning contests you never entered. Do not click on free gifts or prizes in your inbox. Do not trust emails that tell of majorly discounted or free prescription medicines. Never fill out any personal information in response to an email from places like the Social Security Administration or the IRS, they will almost never ask for personal information in email form.
3. Do not open emails from unfamiliar sources.
4. Do not click on links inside of emails from unfamiliar or fishy sources.
5. Do not download anything from any email that comes from anyone outside of friends, family, and stores you trust, that is stores whose newsletters and coupons you subscribed to on purpose.
6. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
7. Do not share personal information on your profile on social media or in messages to people you do not know personally.
8. Never share the future dates of vacations or other times you may not be home on your profile. It is also a good idea not to post pictures of you on vacation while you are still on vacation. This can open up your home to burglary. It’s better to post the pictures when you get back from your vacation.
9. Never share pictures of valuables, jewelry, or money online and never share that you are interested in collecting valuable things except with people you trust or legitimate contacts who have something you want.
10. Make sure that your passwords are all secure. Do not use your birthday, any part of your name, your kids’ names, your spouse’s name, your pet’s name, or anything else that may be easy to guess. Hackers are very astute and will try all of the easy things first.
Being on the internet does not have to be scary or dangerous. Just don’t talk to or accept information from strangers. Do not let anyone know too much about your whereabouts and make your passwords and PINs difficult to guess. Stay safe out there!