The Ultimate Guide to Online Privacy for Seniors

Online privacy for seniors is incredibly important, but it’s difficult to stay private in an ever-changing digital world. It’s easier now than ever to get caught up in scams, lose your bank account information, or have your identify stolen. New technology is being introduced so quickly that keeping up with everything is quite a challenge.

However, there are a few timeless ways to keep yourself—and your information—safe. While this isn’t a comprehensive list, if you're looking for a relatively easy and complete guide to protecting yourself online, these are the basics of staying safe and maintaining your privacy at any age.

Online Privacy For Seniors on the Internet

Whatever Internet browser you prefer to use, make sure that you have privacy software installed to keep your Internet and information secure. You can install Norton 360 and help protect your computer from viruses or dangerous activity. Unprotected browsers are susceptible to spyware, which can hijack your computer to monitor your online activity, track your passwords and bank information, and more. Keep these dangers at bay by investing in some high-quality privacy software.

You can also try using the Internet on a private browser for added security. Browsers like Google, while incredibly quick and easy to use, track your search history and collect other information on you. If you want to erase your Google history, you can find the steps to do so here.

However, private browsers like DuckDuckGo are also viable options. These kinds of browsers don’t collect or store any private information from you.

Online Privacy For Seniors on Social Media

Senior Citizen using internet pondering online privacy

Social media is an easy place to accidentally overshare to prevent online privacy for seniors. For one, social media is easy to access no matter what you're doing - you can use a computer with Internet and your mobile device from anywhere. It may seem like everyone else is sharing their location or numbers online, so what’s the harm?

In truth, there is a lot of potential harm in doing this. There’s certain information that you should never share online, like your location, home address, phone number, bank account information, social security number, or passwords. Make sure to keep this information off social media to protect your private data.

Similarly, pictures are a big part of social media, but only share what you are completely comfortable with sharing. Remember that once something is on the Internet, you lose control over where it could end up. Always ask others before posting them online, like in Instagram posts or photos. Similarly, if you are posting pictures of children or grandchildren, make sure you have parental permission first.

Be aware that, unfortunately, not everyone on social media is as they seem! People may reach out to you pretending to be somebody they are not. Accounts will privately message you pretending to be someone in need or a friend.

Be careful and think it through before you respond or click any links sent from these people. There’s a high risk of catfishing on social media, and that can lead to a huge breach in privacy if your account is subsequently taken.

Common Online Privacy For Seniors Mistakes to Avoid

There are many things on the Internet that appear to make life easier. In truth, they can compromise your security. Try to avoid the following privacy mistakes. They put online privacy for seniors at serious risk for hacking or information loss.

Create Strong Passwords for Your Online Accounts

It can be tempting to use your anniversary date or your cat's name for your bank account password but this is simply not secure. Unfortunately, these easy-to-remember passphrases are also easy for someone to guess. They increase the risk of your account being hacked.

Many websites now require a minimum number of characters as well as letters, numbers, and symbols. These passwords are much more secure. The strength of your password is definitely the most important security measure to consider when you sign up for online accounts.

Don’t Pick One Password and Use It For All Your Accounts

Remembering one password is hard enough, more than that and you’re at risk for forgetting them all!  While it’s so easy to just pick one password and use it for multiple accounts, it can be seriously detrimental if any one of those accounts is hacked. As a rule, never use a password more than once, no matter how unique it may be. For tips on creating strong, unique passwords, check out our article here.

If you struggle with remembering passwords, you’re not alone! However, there’s an easy solution.  Roboform is a software program that securely stores all of your passwords in one place. You will only have to remember one password.

Another alternative would be to create a password sheet. Write all your passwords down together and keep it in a place you’ll be sure to remember. Do it on physical paper so that you’re not at risk for losing the information digitally. You can keep the sheet in a special folder, put it by the computer in a place only you know of, or find any other secure place where you’ll be able to access it.

Don’t Save Your Personal Information to Websites

This mistake is in the same vein as reusing your passwords. Nowadays, Google offers you to save your login information, bank information, and personal information to websites for ease of access in the future. As handy as this may seem, it’s best to always reject Google’s offer. It may get repetitive but re-entering your information each time is far safer than leaving it in the hands of the digital world.

Also, when you go to enter any personal or sensitive information to a website, always check for the tiny lock image in the address bar. This will tell you if the website is secure or not, and if a website is not secure, you never want to give it your information.

Additionally, make sure you strengthen your web browser with the necessary updates for maximum security. You want to know that nobody can get to your web history, picture backups, or shared projects.

Scammers and hackers take advantage of email to send harmful messages to unsuspecting users. If you receive an email from an unknown email address or an email with suspicious links in it, never click. Sometimes these scammers will try to entice users by saying that they’ve won something or that if they fill out a short questionnaire, they can be entered in a raffle for a prize.

Both of these are common scams. Only open emails from those you know, and never give private information out over email.

Conclusion

Don't be afraid to take advantage of the extraordinary resources online. In general life, deepen your connections with friends and family via social media; use Google to get straight answers to online questions; take fun classes from an online site that approaches every topic you could ever think of; even securely use Cloud services to share pictures with family. The options are endless. As long as you're being safe by following the above safety tips, the Internet is a great addition to your everyday life.

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