Anable: Seniors also need safe internet surfing practices

By Susan Anable | Cox Communications

We usually worry about children when it comes to internet safety, but what about our parents? A recent survey revealed that Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation care as much, if not more, 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 over $1.7 billion.

This represents a 74% increase over reported losses 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 while online.

By nature, the Baby Boomer and Silent generations tend to be more skeptical of online platforms that track their data. A report from Forrester Research, Inc. showed us that the majority of these two generations don’t think it’s okay for companies to track their activities across websites in order to receive more relevant ads. But what about the information they don’t know is being tracked?

If you belong to the Baby Boomer or Silent Generations, or are a loved one or caretaker of someone from these generations, make sure you know how to stay safe and protect your valuable, private information while on the Internet.

One sinister tactic online hackers use to gain access to your information is to send emails or text messages pretending to be someone else. This is phishing. These messages may look like they are from a friend or family member or a stranger claiming that you have won a contest. They will typically convey a sense of urgency to get their victims to act quickly and respond with personal information such as their Social Security Number (SSN) or bank account numbers.

Knowing to be careful with these types of messages can help prevent others from falling for phishing schemes and losing their privacy or money.

A crucial first step to protecting valuable information online is to make sure your password is strong enough. Sometimes it’s hard to come up with a strong password, let alone remember it.

Writing a password on a piece of paper is not secure and can be frustrating when the password is needed immediately. AARP recommends using password management apps. These apps help users create strong passwords, store and recall passwords, and there are a number of popular password managers – such as Keeper, Sticky Password, Last Pass, Dashlane, RoboForm, 1 Password, True Key and ZOHO Vault – that are easy to use and free to start.

Two-factor authentication is an excellent security tool and widely available through most websites and apps that require a password. Cox offers this option to our Internet customers. With two-factor authentication, the user is sent a one-time code to their messages or another network device that they must enter on the website or app they’re connecting to to continue.

Another tip is to find out if your passwords have already been stolen. Even if you’ve gone out of your way to protect your passwords, sometimes you can’t prevent your passwords from being leaked. A common reason for this is data breaches. But there are several resources you can check to see if any of your passwords have been compromised, 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 may be giving out more information than you realize. Age Safe America warns against oversharing on social media, which can be done by posting photos or statuses that include information such as your home address or workplace. Fun online quizzes that are common on Facebook also pose a potential danger because they may ask you to share your name, gender, year of birth, etc.

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

It is important to be safe while surfing the web and to ensure that our loved ones also know how to protect themselves.

Susan Anable is Cox Communications’ Phoenix Market Vice President.

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