Capable: Seniors need safe internet surfing experiences too

By Susan Anable | Cox Communications

When it comes to internet safety, we usually worry about the kids, but what about our parents? A recent study shows that Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation are just as, if not more, concerned about online security and privacy than Gen Z.

In 2021, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center reported that more than 92,000 victims over the age of 60 lost $1.7 billion.

This represents a 74% increase over the losses reported in 2020. In our digital-first world, it is critical that the Baby Boomer and Silent generations, who are not digital natives, practice safe habits when online.

Naturally, the Baby Boomer and Silent generations are more skeptical of online platforms that track their data. Forrester Research, Inc. report showed us that the majority of these two generations believe that it is wrong for companies to track their activity across sites in order to get more relevant ads. But what about tracking information they don’t know about?

If you are a Baby Boomer or the Silent Generation, or are a loved one or caregiver of one of these generations, make sure you know how to stay safe and protect your valuable, personal information while online.

One of the nefarious tactics online hackers use to gain access to your information is to send emails or text messages impersonating someone else. This is phishing. These messages may appear to be from a friend, family member, or an unknown person claiming to have won a contest. They will usually convey a sense of urgency to get their victims to act quickly and respond with personal information such as social security numbers (SSN) or bank account numbers.

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

An important first step in protecting valuable information online is to ensure that your password is strong enough. Sometimes a strong password is hard to find, let alone remember.

Writing a password on a sticky note is not secure and can be frustrating when the password is needed immediately. AARP recommends using password manager software. These apps help users create, store, and recall strong passwords, and there are a number of popular password managers—Keeper, Sticky Password, Last Pass, Dashlane, RoboForm, 1 Password, True Key, and ZOHO Vault—that can make it easy. It’s free to use and get started.

Two-factor authentication is a great security tool and is widely available through most sites and apps that require a password. Cox offers this option to our internet customers. With two-factor authentication, a user is sent a one-time code in their messages or on another network device that they must log into the site or app they’re connected to to continue.

Another tip is to find out if your passwords have already been stolen. Even if you do your best to protect your passwords, sometimes you can’t prevent your passwords from being leaked. A common reason for this is a data breach. But there are many resources you can use to check if any of your passwords have been stolen, such as Google’s Password Checker and Mozilla’s Firefox Monitor.

Let’s not forget social media. It’s fun to scroll through your feed and post photos or statuses, but you’re giving away more information than you might imagine. Age Safe America cautions against oversharing on social media, which can happen by posting photos or statuses that include information such as your home address or work location. The fun online quizzes that are common on Facebook are also potentially dangerous because they ask you for your name, gender, year of birth, etc. they can ask to share.

The Internet is a great place to explore, keep up with friends and family, and keep up with current events.

It’s important to stay safe online and make sure your loved ones know how to protect themselves.

Susan Anable is Cox Communications Phoenix Market Vice President.

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