Cyber Security for Seniors

Cybersecurity is general Internet safety, which includes protection of anything connected to or accessible by the Internet- from networks themselves to the information stored in computers. Technology has changed tremendously in the past 25 years, and it only continues to advance. The Internet has brought us so many benefits; email, electronic messaging, and personal websites allow us to stay connected, informed, and involved with family and friends. The Internet also provides an easy way to shop, plan travel, and manage finances. However, with these increased conveniences comes increased risk.

Just like any other public environment, the Internet requires awareness and caution. Just as you use locks to keep criminals out of your home, you also need safeguards to secure your computer. Many of the crimes that occur in real life are now done – or at least facilitated – through the Internet. Theft, abuse, and more can be and are being done online. Many scammers target older Americans via emails and websites for charitable donations, dating services, auctions, health care, and prescription medications. Below are some common sense rules from the real world that apply in the online world.

  • Don’t judge a book by its cover. Cyber criminals hide behind the anonymity of the Internet. What you say and do online is visible to others, and it’s not erasable. Don’t communicate or reveal any personal information to strangers online. Personal information includes your name, address, age, phone number, birthday, email address, social security number, and insurance policy numbers – even your doctor’s names.


  • Look before you leap. Don’t enter contests, join clubs, or share your personal information for any reason, unless you know you are on a reputable website. Do not open attachments, click links, or respond to email messages from unknown senders or companies that ask for your personal information. Most organizations – banks, charities, universities, companies, etc. – don’t ask for your personal information over email. Beware of requests to update or confirm your personal information.


  • All that glitters is not gold. Be wary of emails offering “free” gifts, prizes, or vacations. These are tricks designed to get you to give up personal information. Personal information can be pieced together to steal identities, money, or credit.


  • A chain is as strong as its weakest link. Once we understand the dangers we face online, we need to tell other people who might not be as cyber smart and savvy. Every Internet user, no matter how young or old, is our Nation’s first line of defense against people who might want to do harm. If we all become more aware of who we talk to, what we say, and what we share online we can all make a big difference.


Article provided by the Department of Homeland Security