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by PaisleyH

5 Tips For Protecting Elderly Relatives From Cybercrime

Learn some great tips for protecting the elderly from cybercrime.

Date:   5/20/2022 9:32:06 PM   ( 43 d ) ... viewed 24 times

The American Journal of Public Health estimates that every year, five percent of the elderly population in this country gets scammed. That's a frightening statistic, not only for elders themselves but for the people who care about them. It's also a preventable crime. Here are five simple tips for keeping yourself or your elderly loved ones safe from cybercrime.

1. Stay in Contact

Senior isolation is a growing problem around the world. Too many elderly people start to lose touch with family and friends, especially as they become less physically active. Scammers count on this. They know that someone who's been left alone will be susceptible to suggestions from a "friendly" voice. If you're elderly, stay involved in social activities. If you're a family member, stay in your loved one's life. Find out if strangers have made contact with them asking for personal information or money. These are immediate red flags. The first step to cyber attack prevention is always knowledge. 

2. Learn How To Spot Scams

According to Pew Research, over 42% of adults 65 and older are now using smartphones. That's good news, but it can leave new users vulnerable to exploitation. One of the most common attacks is called a phishing scam. This occurs when a scammer creates a fake email, phone call, or text message appearing to be from a legitimate company. They then either request financial information or send a link that downloads spyware or ransomware onto the victim's device. Don't feel guilty asking for the credentials of unknown callers. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers free advice on how to recognize fraudulent sites, so do your research.

3. Take a Zero Trust Approach

Zero trust is the term used by professionals for an approach to security that takes nothing for granted. In a globalized age, cybercriminals are not limited by geography. A phone call that seems to be from a nearby area code might just be "spoofed" to look local. Public Wi-Fi networks might suffer from lax security. Never let anyone access your home or business network without proper identification, and store your most sensitive data offline. Taking a "trust no one" approach to your networks and devices may feel like paranoia, but it's an unfortunate necessity. 

4. Use Stronger Passwords

According to research platform GoodFirms, 30% of respondents said that they had suffered a security breach due to compromised passwords. One big issue is that people aren't making their passwords strong enough. Passwords shouldn't be easy to remember. Resist the urge to use something personal as a password; anyone who learns about your life could probably guess it quickly.

Research shows that a good password should be at least eight characters in length. It should be a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols if possible. Take note: Over 35% of users write their passwords down on slips of paper. If you're having memory problems, this might be a necessity, but it doesn't have to become a vulnerability. Always keep your password tucked safely in a drawer or (even better) a combination safe. It's that important. 

5. Update Software Regularly

One of the easiest aspects of cybersecurity to forget is software updates. Studies show that only about 25% of users install them automatically. Many consider it a hassle, and sometimes updates do cause bugs and glitches. Even so, some of the worst cyberattacks can be traced back to obsolete software. If possible, install updates as soon as they become available since they typically contain patches for security vulnerabilities.

Remember that the need to update applies to your antivirus software as well! Antivirus programs are a good first line of defense and should be installed on all devices. Sometimes these programs update themselves, but that's not a guarantee. It's up to everyone to take the initiative and make sure that proper defenses are in place. 

Education is the most potent weapon in the fight against cybercrime. Stay informed and spread the word so you can keep everyone you care about safe. 


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