We’ve been hearing for years about the dangers posed by the internet for children and young people, but adults sometimes take for granted that they themselves are safe. These days, however, that simply isn’t true - adults, and especially the elderly - are finding the World Wide Web to be a more and more dangerous place.
Adults are also at risk. You’ve probably purchased something online before. Maybe you pay your bills or check your bank statements on the internet. Now days, it is likely that even your phone has Web access. As life becomes more and more fast-paced, applications like these may save you time, energy, and stress. But they can also cost you - security, privacy, and money. Follow these essential guidelines to staying secure on the internet:
- When shopping online, buy only from secure websites. You’ll know by the “https:” at the beginning of the URL a little padlock icon somewhere in the window (but not in the web page display!) of your browser.
- Don’t pay by debit. If you can, pay with either a payment service (such as PayPal) or a credit card, as these will limit outside access to your money and personal information.
- Create strong passwords. This may sound like a given, but there’s more to it than pinning a number to the end of a word. Stay away from the obvious like birthdays, anniversaries, or your children’s names. It is also recommended that your e-mail password differ from passwords you use for more sensitive sites, such as banking sites.
- Just because you didn’t post it doesn’t mean it’s not there. You never know what photos you might be tagged in online, so talk to your friends and family about what is or is not appropriate for the internet.
And for senior citizens, there can be even more to watch out for:
- Quizzes and Surveys Social networking sites in particular are stuffed with these quizzes and surveys. Many of these will be directed at older americans and may ask personal questions about health, finances, and the like. But why? Often times, the responses and information gathered from these quizzes and surveys are sold to third party companies for profit. That means intimate details of your life could be out to the highest bidder.
- Cyberbullying Kids aren’t the only ones affected by this awful new trend. Many seniors have been targets of cyberbullying, and worse, they are most often the victims of family members. They are targeted financially as well as emotionally with threats, belittling, and aims at gaining access to their finances. Be careful; while most people are not out to harm you, you must remain aware of the possibility and take reasonable precautions.
The world is changing and advancing, for good and bad, and as we try to keep up, we can’t forget our own safety. So this October, as you and your families participate in the old, real-world tradition of dressing up and conning neighbors out of candy, as you fasten those final strips of reflective tape and add more batteries to your flashlights, take some extra time to secure your virtual world as well.