Last week, we talked about the benefits of seniors and boomers using social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. This week, we’re going to discuss strategies and tips for enjoying all the Internet has to offer without risking your safety, identity, or financial security.
Identity theft is the fastest-growing crime in America, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Nearly 10 million incidents of identity theft occur each year. The growing amount of data available online has made identity theft, among other forms of cyber crime, easier to accomplish. While the Internet has made it easier, that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to protect oneself while online.
One of the best ways to keep your information safe is by using a secure password. The strongest passwords include letters, numbers and symbols and a combination of upper and lowercase letters. An example would be 79SdJk47!2. By using combinations of this nature, it makes it harder for online scammers to guess passwords and hack into your accounts. This includes everything from Facebook to your online banking. It also is important to use different passwords for different online accounts. If you use the same password for every account you access online and someone gains access to it, they can do a lot of damage in a short amount of time. It is also important to change your passwords every so often.
When shopping online, never provide credit card or other financial information on a site that does not use a secure URL connection. Secure connections are always indicated with an https in the address. Also, make sure you are actually on a legitimate website and not a spoofed website. Malicious websites are designed to use a variation in spelling or a completely different domain in an attempt to confuse users and encourage them to share personal information.
This bit of advice has been around for awhile, but it is a good one: never open unsolicited email attachments. Attachments are one of the best ways to incorporate viruses or bits of malicious code that can steal information from your computer. Make sure the setting that allows your email program to automatically download attachments is turned off, and be sure to scan all email attachments for viruses and malware before opening , which leads us to our next tip.
Make sure all software on your computer is updated to the latest versions available, including your Internet browsers. Additionally, if you are not already doing so, invest in good antivirus and antimalware software and keep it up to date.
Consider attending an Upside of Downsizing® Conference. Details on the next conference are available here.