Online Safety Tips for Older Internet Users
Internet & Mobile Security Blog | MATE | 6 December 2022
Older Australians are more engaged with the internet than ever before. From 2017 to 2020, the proportion of Aussies aged 65 and up with the internet in their home jumped from 69% to a staggering 93%. But with more and more older users embracing the digital lifestyle, the need to practice good cyber hygiene and maintain online safety couldn’t be more important. In this blog, we teach you how to keep your digital guard up by listing our top tips for how to stay safe online.
1. Make strong passwords (and don’t share them)
One of the most important online safety tips for seniors is to create strong, unique passwords for each of your online accounts.
Be sure to avoid obvious passwords such as ‘password’, ‘123456’ or ‘qwerty’. You should also avoid creating passwords that are based on personal details such as your:
- date of birth
- names of pets or family members
- street address
A strong password is one that includes a combination of numbers, upper and lowercase letters, and symbols𑁋and the longer, the better. For example, a strong password may look something like this: ‘n^H@Ta7gf956=Ke’.
Whatever phrases you decide on, it’s important to never share your passwords with anybody as this can compromise your accounts’ security.
2. Use a password manager
If you find it difficult to remember a large number of strong passwords, you may want to consider using a password manager. This is a type of security software that stores your passwords in an encrypted format𑁋meaning they can only be decoded and accessed by someone with the right key or code.
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By using a password manager, you can generate and store long, complex passwords for all your online accounts𑁋relieving the need to remember them yourself. Many password managers will also give you the option to auto-fill your login details on websites, which can make accessing your accounts a whole lot quicker and easier.
3. Use multi-factor authentication
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is an extra layer of security that can be added to your online accounts. It works by requiring you to provide multiple pieces of evidence (or ‘factors’) in order to log into your accounts.
For example, when logging into your online banking account you may be required to enter your password as well as a code that’s been sent to your mobile phone.
While MFA can be slightly inconvenient𑁋as it requires you to have your phone on you when logging in𑁋it’s a great way to protect yourself against online hacking and identity theft.
4. Be aware of online scams
One of the most common online safety concerns for seniors is becoming the victim of an online scam. Scammers are constantly coming up with new ways to trick people out of their financial or personal information, so it’s important to be aware of the latest scams and their telltale signs.
Some of the most common online scams targeting seniors include:
Investment scams: This is where scammers offer seniors the opportunity to ‘invest’ in a fake business or product. The scammer will usually ask for an upfront payment, often promising high or guaranteed returns, but the victim will likely never see this money again.
Romance scams: These occur when scammers create fake profiles on online dating websites, apps, or social networking sites, with the intention of gaining your trust and eventually asking you for money. Often this request is done under the guise of an investment opportunity, or aiding them in covering their medical expenses or visa costs.
Phishing scams: This is where scammers try to trick you into giving them your personal details, such as your bank account information or online passwords, by pretending to be from a legitimate organisation, such as your bank or a government department.
Tech support scams: this is where scammers pretend to be from a tech support company or an internet service provider and try to convince you to give them remote access to your computer or pay for unnecessary repairs.
Conduct due diligence
If you’re ever unsure about an email, phone call or text message you’ve received, don’t hesitate to contact the organisation in question directly to verify its authenticity. Often this is a simple matter of searching (but not clicking) the web address of the link you’ve received and inquiring about the message. In the case of an unexpected call, it’s best to hang up and call the company back using a verified phone number from their website.
If you think you may have been the victim of an online scam, report it to the relevant authorities, such as Scamwatch, as soon as possible.
5. Use a Virtual Private Network
A virtual private network (VPN) is a security service that allows you to browse the internet anonymously and securely. VPNs work by encrypting your internet connection and routing it through a secure server in another location. This makes it far more difficult for anyone to track or spy on your online activities. This can be especially useful when using public Wi-Fi hotspots which are generally unsecured and vulnerable.
A VPN can also help you create a more secure Wi-Fi network at home by essentially encrypting the data that’s being sent and received on your connected devices.
6. Take care when posting online
Whether you’re uploading a photo to social media or replying to a family member in the comment section, it’s important to be careful about what you post online. Making sure that you don’t disclose any personal or identifiable information about yourself or those you know is an easy way to stay off the radar of scammers and hackers.
7. Improve your internet safety with secure websites
Be it online shopping, internet banking or general web browsing, it’s best practice to make sure that the website you’re using is secure. There are two ways you can tell if a website is secure:
- the URL starts with “https” as opposed to just “http”𑁋the “s” stands for secure, or
- there is a lock icon next to the URL, indicating that the site is using encryption to protect your personal information
Maintaining cyber hygiene is an important part of staying safe online, especially for older Australians who maybe aren’t all that familiar with the digital landscape. By following our tips on internet security, you’ll be in a much better position to have a safe and secure online experience.
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