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Being Cautious Of Cybercrime To Keep Seniors Safe Online

Who doesn’t surf the internet and check emails on their smartphones, tablets and computers? Because of our dependence on these devices, fraudsters are out in full force trying to scam people out of money. Cybercrime is rampant. It’s a true and unfortunate circumstance in 2024. Cybercrime is defined as any criminal activity that involves a computer, network or networked device. We live in an era where just about everything can be accessed online.

Cybercrime is an especially worrisome issue for older adults. Seniors are often targeted because of the perception that they are vulnerable. As a result, it is vital that they become aware of how to diligently protect themselves against cybersecurity threats.

Enable two-factor authentication to prevent cybercrime.

We get it. Keeping track of several passwords can be very difficult for older adults. This is especially true for those who contend with memory issues. Nevertheless, it’s important to not select passwords for your accounts that are easy to guess. Birthdays and names should be avoided as they are too obvious. Instead, create passwords comprised of numerous characters that don’t spell anything. It’s also wise to use two-factor authentication.

Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to your online accounts. It requires you to provide two forms of identification before logging in. This could be something you know (like a password) and something you have (like a code sent to your phone).

According to Canada’s national public awareness campaign, Get Cyber Safe, two-step verification is better than a password alone. “But what’s best is using a different type of second authentication factor that is not on a digital device,” they point out, “something you have (e.g. a token, smartcard) or something you own (e.g. a biometric like a fingerprint).”

Change your passwords on a regular basis.

To reiterate, it’s wise to create strong passwords. They should be comprised of a combination of letters, numbers and special characters to make them difficult for others to guess. However, according to the Canada Safety Council, changing your passwords periodically is a smart choice.

Their website also encourages seniors to have a different password for each of their different activities. “For instance, don’t use the same password you use for online banking when you log into your favourite social networking site,” it advises, “Make sure your passwords are hard to guess and not something obvious like ‘12345’ or ‘password.’”

Look out for phishing scams.

There are numerous instances of seniors being taken by phishing scams via email. They get messages from email accounts that look familiar. As a result, they trust that the sender is someone they know. These emails often request the transfer of funds (sometimes in the form of gift cards, oddly enough) and other personal information such as credit card numbers.

It’s important to never to respond to emails that request such personal information. As well, don’t click on any links or download any attachments. Look for signs of phishing, such as misspelled words or email addresses that don’t match the companies they claim to be from.

“Scammers will send an email that appears to be from a legitimate source and direct you to a fake website,” details of Diane Amato of Royal Bank of Canada, “This phoney site will then ask you for personal information such as credit card numbers, account numbers, passwords, date of birth, driver’s license number, and social insurance or social security numbers. While you may think you are giving your information to a valid company, instead, you may be providing it to a fraudster!”

Use privacy settings on social media.

It seems that so many of us are obsessed with the Instagrams, Facebooks and TikToks of the world. Various social media platforms are used by millions of people globally each and every day. They provide us all with sources of information, entertainment and communication with friends. Social media, however, can also be used to scam people.

Older adults are cautioned not to share any personal information with people in social media messages. As well, it’s wise to only communicate with people you know. Use privacy settings to control who can view your profile and posts. Be very cautious about accepting friend requests from people you’re unfamiliar with.

Be wary of fake virus warnings.

Computer users are often concerned about the cyber attacks that could occur. As a result, they purchase security software. Their wish, of course, is to prevent against both viruses and scam artists. However, in many cases, warnings about impending viruses are actually cyber attacks themselves. Beware!

“Fake virus warnings may appear on your screen as pop-ups (or even worse, voices or alarms), alerting you to a fake threat and encouraging you to act immediately — either by downloading a product or calling a tech support number to fix it,” explains Amato, “If you call the number, you’ll reach a scammer who intends to collect your credit card information so they can remove the virus. They may even pressure you into sharing your screen so they can access all the data on your computer.”

Update your software.

Arguably, one of the easiest ways to protect yourself from cyber threats is to keep your software up to date. That includes your operating system, web browser and antivirus program. Software updates often include security patches that help protect your device from vulnerabilities that could be exploited by cybercriminals.

It’s also wise to regularly backup your important files and data to an external hard drive or cloud storage service. This will help protect your data in case your device is lost, stolen or compromised by malware. Not sure how to do any of that? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Seek the assistance of a loved one or trusted friend who is somewhat tech savvy.

At Advantage Home Health Solutions, we care a great deal about senior safety. This is why our chief objective is to help older adults live independently in their own homes. For both expert advice and information about our mobility devices and home accessibility renovations, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 403-460-5438. You may also email us by filling out the form on our Contact page!

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