Danielle McCarthy

Technology

5 simple tips for seniors to stay safe online in 2018

5 simple tips for seniors to stay safe online in 2018

Daniel Weiss, the Lead Penetration Tester and Head of Security Services at  Kiandra IT, has over 22 years’ experience in IT, in a range of different industries.

Just like locking your front door or wearing a seatbelt, staying safe online should be second nature by now. But as advanced as technology is these days, there are still security risks you need to be aware of. 

Computer hacking is on the rise, so it’s important to wrap your head around the basics of cyber security. But don’t worry – there’s no need to be an expert to stay safe. It’s mostly about using common sense and knowing what to look out for. With that in mind, here are some simple tips to protect yourself in 2018.

1. Beware of phishing emails

When it comes to cyber security, one of the main things to look out for are phishing emails. Sent by criminals and hackers, these emails will usually ask you to provide or confirm sensitive information. The nasty thing is, they often look legitimate and appear to be from a real company.

So what should you look out for? Firstly, always be suspicious of emails that ask you for personal or financial information, such as credit card details or passwords. Legitimate companies don’t ask this of you, so it’s better to delete and block these emails straight away. Other warning bells include bad spelling and grammar, threats, and links within emails (simply don’t click on these).

Don’t be afraid to double check anything you think may be suspicious. For example, if a call or email claims to be from a bank, there is no problem with you making a phone call to your bank to double check the validity of the request before doing anything.

2. New year, new passwords

It’s common sense to never share your passwords, and to change them up every now and then. But the thing is, the more online accounts you open up, the harder it can be to keep track of them all.

One of the best solutions is to create strong and secure passwords using a password storage tool such as LastPass. This tool will save you the trouble of keeping on top of all your passwords. It can create complex passwords for each of your accounts, and all you need to do is remember one master password. It’s simple, safe and convenient.

3. Don’t give away personal information

While you can’t keep everything private online, you should only share sensitive details when you’re absolutely required to, only through authorised websites and to authorised people. Whether you’re responding to emails or creating a social media account, always ask yourself if the information you’re providing is the kind of content you want strangers looking at. If you wouldn’t give that type of information out in person to a stranger, don’t do it online.

If you’re ever worried, consider using a web app such as Privnote. This easy-to-use tool allows you send sensitive information via a web link that will self-destruct after the intended recipient reads it.

4. Keep everything updated

While many computers will have in-built security software, it’s worth installing extra antivirus, antispyware or firewall security. To make the most of this software, you should run it at least once a week and ensure it’s always up to date.  

It’s crucial to update your operating system (OS) too. This might mean upgrading to the latest macOS or having the most current Windows installation running on your computer. The good thing is, most computers will alert you to when your systems or applications need updating. That said, it’s always good to double-check.

5. Regularly back up your data

If the worst strikes, it’s best to be prepared. Losing your information or dealing with a virus can be emotionally and financially taxing. But you can save yourself a lot of stress if you regularly back your computer up.

Depending on how much sensitive data you have, you can back up your files on an external hard drive, or use a cloud service such as Dropbox. If you’re unsure what to do, your best bet is to chat with your computer retailer, cyber security expert, or a well-educated friend or family member.