Although the elderly have lower technology adoption rates than younger generations, that doesn’t mean they aren’t venturing online. In fact, over 65% of seniors use the internet, with 71% of those accessing it daily – making the idea that seniors still use mail as the main way of communication outdated. Not only do 72% of seniors use the internet to communicate with friends and family, but they also spend their time browsing, using social media, and doing their online banking and shopping. So, it’s necessary for seniors to know about the dangers lurking online and how to protect themselves.
Use Strong and Unique Passwords
The first step to making sure seniors are safe online is good password hygiene. Every account should have its own unique password. More than that, those passwords should be at least eight characters long and include both lowercase and uppercase letters, as well as numbers and special characters. But remembering all of those passwords is impossible, and writing them down on a piece of paper is a big no-no. That’s where password managers come in.
Password managers are extremely easy to use, and they store all the senior’s credentials in a secure vault, protected by a master password. As an added bonus, this solution also creates random passwords with one click and warns about duplicated or weak passwords. Better yet, it’s possible to add emergency contacts, such as the senior’s caregiver, who will get access to the vault if something happens to the senior or if they forget their master password.
Always Have an Antivirus Running
Younger people know that it’s important to use an antivirus when browsing the internet. There’s always the possibility of visiting a website or downloading a file containing malware, and an antivirus can automatically detect and destroy the threat. The best part for seniors is that this type of software runs quietly in the background so, even if the user isn’t the most tech-savvy, a caregiver can install the antivirus and let the software do all the work. Just make sure to set up the antivirus to download updates automatically so it doesn’t get outdated.
Beware of Online Scams
Many criminals scam seniors for a living – this isn’t anything new. But what was once done through a phone call or door-to-door is now delivered directly to a senior’s inbox. So, it’s important to teach seniors that the internet is a dangerous place, and that they can ignore any emails from a wealthy prince in a foreign country who just needs some help transferring their millions.
All information needs to be double-checked as even the most professional-looking websites can hide a phishing attempt. Using a secure email service with a frequently updated scamming database protects seniors going through their inboxes. You should also ensure they use a secure browser that blocks malicious ads and websites to prevent seniors from being exploited after clicking a dubious link.
Watch Out for Catfishing
The internet has opened our homes to the world – and it also opened our dating possibilities. While there are many challenges for the elderly to find love, it’s now possible to meet new people without even having to leave the couch. However, caution is required as it’s extremely easy to lie online. People can effortlessly upload a photo of someone else and pass as a completely different person. Some dating apps are trying to develop a way for users to run background checks on their matches within the platform. Still, it’s important to be careful with what type of information you share with others online. Unless you’ve seen them in person or on a video call, you never know what kind of con artist you might be talking to.
Encrypt Your Connection With a VPN
Nowadays, VPNs are widely known for bypassing streaming services’ geo-restrictions. But the most important service VPNs provide is security. Cybercriminals can get access to a senior’s information by hacking their internet connection allowing them to eavesdrop on the elderly person’s online activities when the information is traveling from their computer to the website’s servers.
VPNs work as a secure tunnel for information to go through, making it impossible for hackers, ISPs, or even the government to see what a senior is doing online. It’s even more important to use a VPN when accessing the internet from an insecure network, such as an airport or coffee shop.
Take Advantage of Parental Control Software
Finally, if the senior agrees with it, you can install a parental control app on their devices. While this is usually used by parents to know what their kids are doing online, it can be a good way to spot any dangerous online activities your loved one might be doing. Of course, this is only possible when there’s a high level of trust between the senior and their caregiver, as they’ll be giving away everything they do online.
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