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Anable: Internet safety isn’t just for kids – why seniors need safe surfing practices

Photo of Internet Safety graphic for senior citizens
In 2021, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center reported that more than 92,000 victims over the age of 60 lost over $1.7 billion. (File Photos/DigitalFreePress.com)

A brief dive into tips for internet safety

By Susan Anable | Point of view

We usually worry about kids when it comes to internet safety, but what about our parents?

A recent study revealed Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation worry just as much, if not more about online security and privacy than Gen Z.

Susan Anable

In 2021, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center reported that more than 92,000 victims over the age of 60 lost over $1.7 billion. This represents a 74% increase over 2020 reported losses. In our digital-first world, it is crucial that those from the Baby Boomer and Silent Generation eras – which are not digital natives – practice safe habits while online.

Inherently, Baby Boomer and Silent Generation tend to be more skeptical of online platforms tracking their data. A Forrester Research, Inc. report showed us the majority of these two eras do not believe it is okay for companies to track their activities across sites to receive more relevant ads.

But what about the information that they don’t know is being tracked?

If you belong to the Baby Boomer or Silent Generation, or are a loved one or caretaker of someone from these generations, ensure that you know how to stay safe and protect your valuable, private information while on the internet.

One nefarious tactic that online hackers use to access your information is to send emails or text messages pretending to be someone else. This is phishing.

These messages may look like they are from a friend or family member or someone unknown claiming you have won a contest. They will typically convey a sense of urgency to get their victims to act quick and respond with personal information like their social security number (SSN) or bank account numbers.

If you know to be cautious of these types of messages, you can help prevent others from falling for phishing schemes and losing information privacy or money.

Ensure you have a strong password

A crucial first step to protecting valuable information online is to ensure that your password is strong enough.

Sometimes it’s hard to come up with a strong password, let alone remember it. Writing a password down on a sticky note is not safe and can be frustrating when the password is needed immediately. AARP recommends using password manager apps. These apps assist users in creating strong passwords, storing and recalling passwords and there are a variety of popular password managers, including Keeper, Sticky Password, Last Pass, Dashlane, RoboForm, 1 Password, True Key, and ZOHO Vault. Most are easy to use and free to start.

Two-factor authentication is an excellent security tool and widely available through most sites and apps that require a password. Cox offers this option to our internet customers. With two-factor authentication, the user is sent a one-time code to their messages or another networked device that they must enter into the site or app they are connecting with to proceed.

Another tip is to find out if your passwords have already been stolen. Even if you have gone out of your way to protect your passwords, sometimes you cannot prevent your passwords from leaking out. A common reason for this is data breaches. But there are multiple resources you can check to see if any of your passwords have been compromised, like Google’s Password Checkup and Mozilla’s Firefox Monitor.

Let’s not forget about social media. It is fun to scroll through your feed and post photos or statuses, but you may be giving out more information than you realize. Age Safe America warns not to overshare on social media, which can occur through posting photos or statuses that contain information like your home address or place of work. Fun online quizzes, which are common on Facebook, also pose a potential danger because they may ask you to share your name, gender, birth year, etc.

Tap into the online security features available through your internet and technology providers like Cox Security Suite Plus. These tools help detect and prevent cyber-attacks, blocking unknown connections and scanning for any other network threats before you ever know about them.

The internet is a great place to research, keep up with friends and family and stay up to date on current events. It’s important to stay safe while surfing the web and to ensure that our loved ones know how to protect themselves, too.

Editor’s Note: Ms. Anable is Cox Communications Phoenix market vice president.

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