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, these are the basics of staying safe online and maintaining your privacy at any age.
Online privacy 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. Programs like Norton 360 can easily be installed and also help protect your computer from viruses or malicious 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 on social media
Social media is an easy place to accidentally overshare. 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.
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 pictures that include them online, and 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 privacy mistakes to avoid
There are many things on the Internet that appear to make life easier. These privacy mistakes should be avoided, as they put you 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 pass phrases are also easy for someone to guess and you have a great 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 by far the most important security measure to consider when signing 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. This is best done 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.
Don’t click on links you receive via email from unknown sources
Scammers and hackers take advantage of email to send harmful messages to unsuspecting users. If you receive an email from an unknown 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.
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