“From kids to seniors, protecting yourself and your data online may be easier than most people realize. We want to make sure senior citizens are informed of some simple steps to protect themselves,” Sachs said.
Some steps, which all Internet users should take, are:
- Make sure you have anti-virus and anti-spyware software installed on your computer, and make sure it is updated frequently.
- Make sure your computer’s firewall is turned on. It is an effective way of blocking unauthorized access to your computer and sensitive information in your computer files.
- If you are using a wireless router for your home network, make sure it has adequate security. Verizon recommends the use of a minimum of WPA or WPA2 security encryption on home routers.
- Don’t get hooked by phishing schemes. Beware of links in emails to sites you don’t recognize; don’t ever provide personal information as a result of an email or pop-up; and remember that reputable businesses never ask for personal information via email or pop-ups.
- If online offers seem too good to be true, they probably are. Downloading software, music or videos offered as “free” may come at a high price – they might include malware or spyware that can infect your computer and steal personal information. Download files only from sites you know and trust.
- Beware of people you meet for the first time on social networking sites. Don’t reveal personal information about yourself or your friends and family in a way that may compromise their safety or identity. Familiarize yourself with the privacy settings on the social networking sites you use and chose the appropriate options for you.
- Passwords, passwords, passwords. As recommended by the National Cyber Security Alliance, make your passwords “long and strong” by combining capital and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols. Separate passwords for separate accounts will also make things more difficult for cybercriminals.
Additional tips and excerpts from a pamphlet created for seniors are available at the Verizon Parental Control Center. Nationally known identity-theft expert Robert Siciliano, an online safety blogger for Verizon partner McAfee, also offers his guidance for seniors from the Verizon@home site.