Every community faces digital threats, otherwise known as a cyberattacks, that are deployed with the intent to collect private data to sell or exploit for other illegal purposes. Cybercriminals target communities through tailored attacks so they can make the most money from the least amount of work.

Senior citizens face more cyberattacks because they are:

  • More willing to listen,
  • more trusting,
  • and, more likely to have life savings, own a home, or have accumulated wealth.

Use caution and always think twice when using the internet, checking your email, talking on the phone with a stranger, and when using social media.

Internet safety:

  • Use an antivirus software and update it regularly
  • Look for a padlock icon or HTTPS in the beginning of the URL
  • Avoid clicking on suspicious links

Email safety:

  • Use zero-trust policy (always assume an email is suspicious and then determine if it is safe by looking for red flags)
  • Protect your email account with a strong password and MFA (multi-factor authentication) such as the Microsoft Authentication App
  • Never send personal information such as your birthday, Social Security Number, or payment info through email. A credible business will never ask for private information through email because it is not secure.
  • Never click on links provided in an email unless you were expecting the email from someone you trust
  • Government agencies do not communicate through email. Never click on links or give away your information through email or over the phone to someone claiming to be from the government or IRS.

Password safety:

  • Create a password that is 16+ characters long, includes lower/uppercase letters, numbers, and has special characters throughout
  • Never reuse the same password for multiple accounts
  • Never share your password
  • Use Multi-Factor Authentication in addition to a password when logging in

Social media safety:

  • Avoid sharing personal information (home address, names of loved ones, vacation details)
  • Protect your accounts with a strong password and Multi-Factor Authentication
  • Never communicate with strangers
  • Do not click on links or ads

Cyber criminals are exploiting fears surrounding the health crisis. Be alert and use caution when confronted with emails, web links, phone calls, or social media ads that try to lure you in by using urgency or making false claims.

COVID Scams to Avoid

  • Currently, you don’t need to pay for the shot so never pay anyone to get in line or to receive your shot
  • Avoid email links that claim to have information about the virus
  • Buy from reputable stores if you are shopping online
  • If there is a sense of urgency or if you are being pressured into sharing information or paying someone money it is probably a scam

In today’s digital age nearly everyone is at risk – private citizens, businesses, healthcare providers, schools, government agencies, etc. – but, when you practice the right cybersecurity habits you lessen your chances greatly and reduce your potential losses when it does happen. Cybersecurity is all about being proactive, not reactive.