Online Security Tips
Increasingly, older people are approaching the use of computers. Whether to research a product before purchasing or reconnecting with a loved on, the world wide web offers infinite possibilities. At the same token, there are also many potential hazards that come along with it. Behind e-mails and websites, dangers and malicious individuals could be lurking. To protect yourself, here are some suggestions to prevent encountering such dangers when navigating the Internet.
It seems like every website requires a password these days. The easiest route would be to pick something simple to remember – like 1-2-3-4 or a birthdate – or use the same password for all sites, right? Wrong.
The more clever you are and the more complext the password, the better you are protecting yourself from being hacked. For instance, make sure your password includes numbers, letters, symbols, and possibly a mix of both upper and lower case letters. You should also get into the habit of changing your password often. If you need help remembering your passwords, write them down and keep them somewhere safe – away from your computer. If you have a smartphone, there are many apps you can download to help you securely store the passwords and easily access them at a later time.
What a better way to get in touch with friends from years past than the various social networks available. We can learn more about our neighbor in an instant than we probably learned all year from getting our mail at the same time! However, it’s easy to get caught up in the “good ol’ days” and forget that there are individuals registered with fraudulant accounts. They may pretend to know you in hopes of getting your personal information or they will search for profiles that are public to find out information. As a result, make sure you always have your profile set to “Private” and are only connecting with people you know.
It is also good practice to not share when you are out of town or headed on vacation in case your profile’s privacy settings aren’t properly set. While it is exciting to share how much fun you are having from the beach, if you are “friends” with the wrong person, he/she may use your vacation as an opportunity to burglarize you.
Who doesn’t love to receive mail? Well, maybe not so much anymore. Our inboxes seem to be filled to the brim anymore, and often from people and businesses we don’t even recognize. If you don’t recognize the sender, that is all the more reason to not open it. We cannot see the sender on the other side of an email, but inside that little message could be a virus.
Sometimes, you may think you recognize the sender as an established business so you open the message. However, the message will prompt you for more information such as your personal banking information, social security number, etc. NEVER send your personal information electronically. If you ever have questions about the validity of an email, call the business directly to verify and give the information over the phone.
Similarly, if you receive a message alerting you that you have won a larger sum of money or trip to paradise, the odds are unfortunately not in your favor and chances are, the message is a scam. Again, try and find a number where you can verify, but never give out personal information. Remember: if you were a winner, there should be no need to give you your banking or credit card information.
No one likes to get a cold, but we can handle it a lot better than a computer can! Having an antivirus scanner on your computer is imperative. In the most serious cases, an affected computer could erase all of your data – including treasured pictures and downloaded music. A computer that does not have an updated antivirus program is more vulnerable than nothing at all. Moreoer, a good antivirus program is a bit like a good maintenance of your stairlift: it's best to update it once a year!
Careful to those who look at you
Almost all computers have a camera now. If your computer has an integrated video camera, you should check that it lights up at your command and is not always active. Someone could film your life while you are at the computer, which most would agree is not wanted. If you are not sure, cover the camera with a post-it when not in use.