5 digital safety tips for seniors

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One of the great benefits of the rapid evolution of the internet is the way it has become horizontal. This means that a large part of people, of diverse ages and social classes, can be inserted in the digital environment.

Proof of this is the inclusion of the elderly on the web. According to Cetic.br, the Regional Center for Studies on the Development of the Information Society, the number of users over 60 years of age rose to 19% from 8% in the period from 2012 to 2016.

Nowadays, however, the growing number of users on the Internet can bring serious digital threats, especially to those who do not have much knowledge of the importance of digital security or make inappropriate use of the internet.

The importance of the Internet for the elderly

According to a survey conducted by the University of Passo Fundo, in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, the internet can improve the memory of older people, as it provides gains in their cognitive abilities. But more than that, it improves the mental health of the elderly and decreases by up to 30% the chances of developing depression – according to another research, this time from the University of Michigan.

It does not stop there. The Internet of Things, an interconnection of the web with everyday equipment (a refrigerator with the resource, for example), is enabling the development of technologies that increasingly help the seniors. Today there are specific devices such as wristbands, which take care of vital signs, informing user’s location and alerting of dangerous situations, with motion sensors and more. All this to ensure that the elderly, no matter where they are or what they are doing, be safe.

Digital security tips

As you have seen, the internet brings great benefits for seniors, including real-life safety. However, there is an increasing need to be aware of the care required in the digital environment. Cybercriminals improve their tactics every day by performing frauds, information thefts, and dozens of other threats – one more dangerous than the other.

Here are five specific tips for seniors to be safe on the internet.

Be aware of passwords

For security reasons, it is necessary to create extremely secure passwords. Avoid using your own name, obvious number sequences – such as 1234 – birth dates or any other easily accessible information. To have a good password, it is interesting to use combinations of words, with uppercase and lowercase letters, specific symbols and digits.

Once you have established it, it is essential to store it in a safe place. Choose a place that only you have knowledge of and never, under any circumstances, inform your password to another person.

In addition, it is very interesting to maintain this type of security on personal devices, such as notebook and mobile. We suggest that you set them to auto-lock after a certain amount of inactivity. The same precautions, for example, can be taken on the privacy tab of social networks.

Be carefull in social networks

For many seniors, social networks are a vital part of the internet. This is because it is a great way to get involved, connect and move their loneliness away. So it is very important to know the privacy terms and controls of these platforms, because it is the only way to guarantee secure access.

Some important tips in this regard are to change the visibility of personal data available on the network. Not all people need to know such information. Another important suggestion is to take care of the type of content being shared; once that stuff falls into the public domain, it is almost impossible to reverse the situation.

Social networks are also great platforms for the dissemination of false news. It is a growing threat that has been gaining prominence in the media in recent years.

Shop on trusted websites

One of the great possibilities of the internet is to shop through virtual stores. Stay alert, however. Many scams, such as theft of personal information and money, are made when users use services from unfamiliar stores. Many of them can serve only as means of performing criminal practices.

Therefore, before making any request, look for references of the company, such as testimonials and evaluations of other clients. It is very important to be aware of the business’s reputation before undertaking any activity.

Do not open suspect e-mails nor click strange links

According to research by ESET security company, Brazil is the country with the largest number of bank frauds. It is therefore vital to never click on suspicious e-mail messages, announcing anything for free or reporting on mandatory registration updates at banks, for example. These messages are means used by cybercriminals to steal personal information – such as passwords and documents – as well as leaking information, stealing identity and generating financial losses.

Ask for help whenever you need

Last but not least, ask for help whenever you have any questions. Whether it’s children or grandchildren, it’s important for older users to have trusted sources they can turn to when they need to find out about accurate Internet usage, security settings on personal devices, social networks, and more.

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Állison Souza
allison.souza@ostec.com.br