The internet is no longer inaccessible to older adults!
In the early stages of the internet, this emerging technology was the most easily adopted by young people. Older generations, particularly the boomers, struggled to adapt to rapid technological advancements, making it harder for them to navigate the internet safely. This trend has shifted now. Today, there are more 65+ years old internet users than ever before. Unfortunately, their lack of tech-savvy knowledge still makes them highly susceptible to online scams, financial frauds, and other internet security threats.
In today’s increasingly connected world, boomers need to navigate the digital landscape safely and protect their valuable online presence. As technology advances, so do the threats and vulnerabilities that can compromise personal information and financial security.
This comprehensive guide aims to empower older users with internet safety knowledge and help them discover online identity protection tools to safeguard their digital identities.
What Is a Digital Identity?
Everything you do on the internet makes up your digital identity and life. Your digital identity represents your personal characteristics and unique behaviors online. As you navigate the internet, you leave digital footprints behind on web pages and databases. This means that there are online records of your personal information, financial details, online shopping behaviors, and sensitive files. If you’ve ever made a social media account, used a password, sent emails, and interacted with other online users, you’ve probably comprised your digital identity.
What Is Internet Security?
Having a digital identity isn’t inherently dangerous. However, failing to protect your digital identity can be detrimental and have real-life consequences for internet users. This problem is what makes internet security essential for young and old internet users alike.
Internet security, or cybersecurity, comprises many technical tools and protective measures aimed at safeguarding an online user’s privacy. When you use an internet security software or tool, you’re essentially adding multiple layers of protection and encryption to your computer and browser. This way, your sensitive digital information becomes harder to access without authorization. Internet security tools, like Virtual Private Networks (VPN), obscure your online data so that hackers and scammers can’t steal it or use it against you.
Luckily, you can also install online identity protection software to detect, prevent, and respond to cyberattacks. This ensures that your private files and personal information remain confidential on the internet.
Why Is Online Security Important for Boomers?
Online security is important for every user, but it’s particularly damaging to the elderly. This is because older users are the biggest victims of online fraud due to their vulnerability and lack of technical knowledge. Every year, elders across the US lose millions to scummy online fraudsters. Unfortunately, financial scams aren’t the only concern for elderly internet users due to the increasing rate of other similar cyber threats. Let’s take a look at some of the most common online threats facing boomers.
Threat 1: Identity Theft
Identity theft has been a persistent crime and concern in the US for decades. Criminals would impersonate other people even before the advent of the internet. However, the internet has made access to people’s private information much easier to acquire.
The boomer generation frequently falls victim to online identity theft. In fact, senior citizens make up almost a quarter of all victims reporting identity theft cases to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Online identity theft involves stealing and misusing someone’s personal information on the internet. Most commonly, scammers use an elderly person’s bank or credit/debit card details to make unauthorized transactions on digital platforms.
Threat 2: Phishing Scams
Another common way scammers commit financial fraud with older adults is by carrying out phishing scams. Phishing refers to a type of fraud that involves impersonating representatives from reputable companies or authorities and approaching victims with the intent to solicit private information. The most common platforms used for phishing scams include email and direct phone calls.
This is how an email phishing scam typically goes: an older person receives an email from a seemingly legitimate address of a reputable company. The email mentions something that triggers the receiver’s anxiety or sense of urgency. For instance, the email could deceive the victim by mentioning a large, unauthorized transaction, telling them to click on a malware link, or asking for personal credentials. All of these tactics aim to make the victim disclose personal information for fraudulent purposes.
Threat 3: Ransomware Attacks
Ransomware is a type of malware or malicious software that restricts a user’s access to their own personal files once installed on a computer. This malicious software gets its name because it often involves some type of ransom demand from the cyber attacker.
An online ransomware attack can be done in many ways. Elderly users often receive deceptive emails with malicious links that automatically install malware on their computers if clicked even once. When that happens, the cybercriminal gains access to the victim’s computer and encrypts their files, demanding payment to unlock them.
How Can Boomers Stay Protected Online?
Now that you know which type of cyberattacks you could be targeted for, it’s time to learn how to protect yourself from them. Fortunately, many cybersecurity companies and software providers now offer online identity theft protection services for senior citizens. My Patriot Shield’s identity protection software is a great example.
However, there are other smart ways to stay protected online. Let’s explore some of them.
Employ Safer Browsing Practices
The first step toward online security starts with your browsing practices. When navigating the internet, it’s easy to bypass safety measures and ignore privacy threats. Avoiding this mistake can significantly protect your digital identity.
Start by learning how to make your browsing habits safer. For instance, avoid using suspicious or unsecured websites. You can tell if a website has a secure connection, i.e. can’t be easily breached by hackers if it has “https://” in its URL. Another way to tell is to check the website’s domain name, which is what the website URL ends with. Examples include “.gov,” “.edu,” and “.org.”
By verifying a site’s legitimacy and credibility, you’ll be able to navigate the internet more safely. It will lower your chances of stumbling upon websites that are not secure, protecting your digital identity.
Use Additional Protection Online
Implementing additional layers of protection is always a good idea when browsing the internet. Doing so is simple; all you have to do is find and install a good firewall, virtual private network (VPN), antivirus software, and/or encryption software. If you frequently get targeted by weird online advertisements, consider installing an ad-blocker, too.
Firewalls help block unauthorized access to your device and networks, while VPNs hide your digital location and information from hackers. Similarly, antivirus software can prevent malware attacks on your browser, protecting your sensitive data and private files. These tools are easy to use since you can simply activate them every time you use your computer once they’re installed.
Learn Common Scams and Tactics
Ultimately, nothing can protect you against online scams better than technical knowledge. Learning about common online scams and ways to combat them will help you identify them and take action immediately. So, take time to research emerging online scams and discover ways to take proactive measures against them. Try to keep up with online communities of elderly users so you can receive and share information against common scams.
Cybercriminals often impersonate their victim’s grandchildren or loved ones to solicit instant payments. Sometimes, lonely elders are targeted for romance scams by bad actors who gain their affection and use it against them. Learn to recognize these signs so you avoid these scams proactively.
Focus on Securing All Platforms
Online identity theft and financial scams take place on all types of platforms. Your social media accounts, email account, mobile phone, etc., can all be used to target you for a cyberattack. This makes securing your information across all platforms necessary.
Start by regularly updating your passwords on every digital platform, especially ones you can’t afford to lose access to. Choose stronger and more unique passwords containing symbols, numbers, and capital letters to make your accounts more inaccessible. Most social media sites now offer two-factor authentication facilities, so implement them for added security. This way, penetrating the layers of protection on your digital platforms will become much harder for scammers.
How To Respond To Cyberattacks and Scams
Sometimes, online identity theft and other elder frauds occur despite security measures being implemented. In such cases, you should know how to deal with the aftermath of a cyberattack appropriately so you get a chance to recover what you’ve lost. Here are some ways to proactively respond to cyberattacks and scams against older people.
1. Get Insurance
Online identity theft is a crime that can make elders lose millions of their hard-earned wages and savings. The impact of digital identity theft can be devastating, which is why government authorities and private companies have launched initiatives to assist elderly victims of cyberattacks. One of these initiatives is digital identity theft insurance.
Identity theft insurance allows you to recover lost wages and cover the cost of other financial damages. Reporting a cybercrime and fighting a legal battle against it can get expensive, so look for an identity theft insurance policy that covers attorney fees. My Patriot Shield’s online identity theft insurance offers these facilities for elderly internet users across the US.
2. Alert Authorities
Regularly checking and monitoring your digital accounts can help you identify suspicious cyberattacks immediately. This makes it easier for you to contact and alert the relevant authorities about the attack on time. The US Department of Justice launched a hotline where victims of elder fraud can report their crimes on an urgent basis. The National Elder Fraud Hotline frequently helps victims recover data loss and damages. It’s active from 10 am to 6 pm on business days (Monday to Friday).
Other authorities you could alert include your bank. If you notice an unauthorized transaction in your digital bank account or any e-commerce site, notify your bank as soon as possible. This will enable your bank to potentially block or reverse the transaction. Keep contact information about the relevant authorities on standby at all times when navigating the internet.
3. Back Up Your Data
Lastly, but importantly, you can back up your data to avoid losing it in a cyberattack. Many cutting-edge software allow elderly users to access remote online backup for personal files like photos, documents, and medical records.
You can find free backup software or subscribe to a paid backup service to store your private files on a cloud database or server. Cloud servers are virtual servers that allow users to remotely store and access their private data. These servers can only be accessed with authorization, protecting your data from unauthorized and malicious cybercriminals. Online backup systems like My Patriot Shield’s secure backup software offer unlimited storage to help you keep all your important data safe.
Online identity theft, financial frauds, and phishing scams cause elderly internet users and boomers to lose millions of dollars every year. Fortunately, there are many ways to protect yourself against identity theft and similar cyberattacks. Boomers can navigate the internet safely by learning smart browsing techniques, using protection software and tools, and using secure backup services for their data.
Invest In Your Online Identity Protection Today!
Are you ready to level up your online protection game? My Patriot Shield can help!
We offer multiple cybersecurity solutions designed to help elderly users safely browse the internet. You can learn more about our services via our website. If you’re ready to make the most of our privacy-assured VPN, identity theft protection software, secure backup software, and/or identity theft insurance, sign up today!