South African seniors are clearly embracing the connected life and all of the opportunities that come with it. However, it is equally clear that we need to be more cyber-savvy in order to prevent ourselves from becoming an attractive target for cyber-criminals. How do we do this?
One of the world’s largest security vendors/software companies, Kaspersky, released findings of their research in a report titled “Older and wiser. A look at the threats faced by over-55s online”. Their findings were that this age group can behave insecurely online and often become victims of fraud. Even though this is American-based research, the findings can absolutely equate to those of South Africans online.
There is no doubt that people with ill intentions have expanded their threat in the cyber world, despite all the latest technological advancements. Worldwide, cyber-crimes have become punishable by law, but we all have a responsibility to prevent cyber-crimes happening in our own backyard.
According to the Kaspersky research, the majority of seniors that were surveyed had heard of malware threatening their data and passwords, had heard of online scams leading to potential loss of money but only 14% thought that something could happen to them.
It is fantastic to see that so many seniors are online – almost 20% of Facebook users, worldwide, are aged 55+. It’s great to see that seniors are using the internet to shop, to bank and to stay connected with family and friends all over the world. This generation is clearly embracing the connected life and all of the opportunities that come with it.
But, we need to protect ourselves properly, we need to act more cyber-savvy and prevent ourselves from becoming an attractive target for cyber-criminals.
How do we do this?
Rule #1 – Be vigilant online
Ask the younger generation for help
If you are unsure about installing the necessary software or how to apply appropriate security settings on some or all of your devices, ask a member of the younger generation to assist you. Or develop a relationship with a reputable computer technician. Ask the person who assists you about the essentials of safe internet surfing, the care of your devices, how to ensure that high privacy settings are set on all devices, and protection with a robust antivirus solution.
If it looks odd or too good to be true, delete it
Don’t respond to any email asking for personal information. Never give your full name, address, phone number, banking information out in an email unless you are 150% sure that it is legitimate. If you think, but are not sure, that the communication could be from your bank, then rather contact them directly and ask them before responding to the mail. Scammers often post as company representatives where you may have an account.
Don’t respond to emails offering “free” gifts or prizes
(other than the You’ve Earned It Newsletter, of course! You know that’s legit!! YEI has a policy not to hand our members’ personal information to any third party)
Emails offering enticing “free” holidays, gifts or prizes are often gimmicks just to get your personal information. Scammers are aware that the word “free” will often elicit a positive response, and therefore it is used widely in scams. Don’t join online clubs on websites that you don’t know. Unless you’re confident you are visiting a reputable website, don’t share any personal information including your email.
Practice safe web browsing
Be very conscious of where you click within a website. If it looks at all odd, it could be. Sometimes this can lead to a download containing malicious code which can be responsible for viruses, worms and/or keyboard loggers (a way of recording your keystrokes).
NB: Clicking on banners on the YEI website is completely safe. Clicking on a YEI banner leads you to further information on the product or service either within the YEI site or on the advertiser’s website.
Avoid using a public network
Avoid connecting to free Wi-Fi networks in public places. Often, these kinds of places have a low level of security and it can expose potential hackers to your device.
Passwords are sacred
Keep your passwords to yourself. Change your passwords regularly and ensure you have a strong password i.e. a mix of upper and lower case, and numbers.
Don’t let all of the above put you off the internet. The internet is a powerful tool for seniors – it is fantastic to continue the learning, stay in touch with family and friends who are far away, and it is a great resource for research. No matter what age you are, it is wonderful to stay connected, be entertained, be informed and take advantage of this incredible technology we have been gifted with. Just ensure security measures, like antivirus programs, are in place and stay one step ahead of the dirty, rotten scammers out there.