Internet Safety for Seniors

Advice For Seniors

Among computer safety are passwords, virus scans and even firewalls. Protect yourself & your identity.

Among computer safety are passwords, virus scans and even firewalls. Protect yourself & your identity.

The internet is an excellent way to keep in touch with loved ones and conduct the business of our daily lives, and is most certainly a time-saving device for everyone.  However, for seniors, particularly those with limited mobility, it can be a lifeline to the outside world.  The internet allows you to chat with friends and family, pay bills, order clothing and home goods, and even order groceries, all from the comfort of your favorite easy chair.  Unfortunately, internet predators frequently prey upon senior citizens for their scams, assuming older adults will have a more trusting nature and/or a lack of internet knowledge that will make them an easy target.  Luckily, there is much you can do to prevent this from happening to you. 

It is important to know that you have the power to protect yourself while on the World Wide Web.  When you have a home computer, your first order of business is security, and this has many facets.  First, you must make sure you have a firewall turned on.  A firewall is a virtual block that prevents those outside of your home from being able to access the information on your computer.  Microsoft Windows has built in firewall protection that you can use.  There is also software you can purchase which will do this for you, such as Norton and ZoneAlarm.

Next, if you are using a wireless router, you need to make it password protected, which will prevent others from being able to access the wireless network in your home.

Thirdly, you should install antivirus software, such as what is made by McAfee and Symantec, and run it regularly.  This is yet another layer of security that will prevent outsiders from invading your computer and obtaining information from it.

Finally, any passwords you create for your computer or an online account should be extremely secure. The goal is to prevent someone who is trying to access your computer or accounts from being able to guess your passwords.  Weak passwords that can be easily guessed would be anything which includes your name and birthdate or the names and birthdates of your relatives or pets, or any standalone common dictionary word.  The strongest possible passwords are at least 10 characters long, do not contain any names or dates associated with you, and have a mix of capital letters, characters, and numbers.  If you must write your passwords down in order to remember them, do not keep that information near your computer.  Lastly, experts recommend that you change your passwords every three months, especially on your banking and credit card accounts.