Thursday, June 12, 2014

An overlooked demographic which is very vulnerable to security breaches is the senor citizen segment of our global population. Although the article below focuses on the United States, many of the concepts apply all over the world. There are very few programs available anywhere to assist our older population. We all should do our part to assist this demographic!

Cyber Security for Older People
From the US department of Homeland Security June 2014 Nesletter

Cybersecurity and Older Americans

Older Americans are online more than ever before. According to May 2013 testimony by Federal Trade Commission Acting Director Charles Harwood the “number of adults over 65 who use the Internet is increasing rapidly”. The Internet provides older Americans the opportunity to stay connected with their community, friends and loved ones, shop, plan travel, and manage their finances. With these opportunities, however, come risks, especially as cyber criminals take advantage of older Americans’ lack of familiarity with technology to access to their personal information, especially for financial gain. For example, criminals are using the Affordable Care Act to take advantage of seniors, getting access to their personal and medical information for purposes of identity theft and collecting payments for fraudulent insurance plans.
Older Americans should take special care when conducting the following activities online:
Connecting with friends and family. Only add people who you know on social media (e.g., Facebook) and programs like Skype. Adding strangers can expose you and your personal information to scammers. Do not include a lot of personal information about yourself on websites, even if the site requests it. For example, do not share your address or telephone number.
Getting medical advice and information. Many pharmaceutical companies create websites with information to sell their products. Look for sites ending in .edu (for education) or .gov (for government) for accurate guidance. Also, be on the lookout for websites claiming to sell legitimate prescription drugs at much lower prices.
Banking. Do not access your bank accounts from a public computer or through an unsecured wireless network. Do not reveal your personal information, such as social security number, bank account number, or date of birth, to unknown sources. When paying a bill online or making an online donation, be sure that you type the website address into your browser instead of clicking on a link or cutting and pasting it from an email.
Online shopping. Make sure you only shop on websites that start with “https” – the ‘s’ means that the website is secure. Look for the padlock icon at the bottom of your browser, which indicates that the site uses encryption to protect your personal information, such as your credit card number. Type new website URLs directly in the address bar instead of clicking on links or cutting and pasting them from emails.
Older Americans can benefit from following these general online safety tips from the Stop.Think.Connect.™ Campaign:
  • Choose strong passwords. Choose a password that means something to you and you only. Use strong passwords with eight characters or more that use a combination of numbers, letters, and symbols.  Do not include your name, your kids or pets names, or other well-known information about yourself in your passwords. Avoid using common words in your password or passphrases. Instead, break up words with numbers and punctuation marks or symbols. For example, @ can replace the letter “A” and an exclamation point (!) can replace the letters “I” and “L”
  • Think before you click. Avoid opening attachments, clicking on links, or responding to email messages from unknown senders or companies that ask for your personal information.
  • Keep a clean machine.  Install and regularly update the software on your computer, including anti-virus and anti-spyware programs. These programs can help protect the information stored on your computer.
Visit for more resources on how older Americans can protect themselves online.
In addition to this blog, I have authored the premiere book on Netiquette, "Netiquette IQ - A Comprehensive Guide to Improve, Enhance and Add Power to Your Email". You can view my profile, reviews of the book and content excerpts at:

 If you would like to listen to experts in all aspects of Netiquette and communication, try my radio show on BlogtalkRadio  and an online newsletter via have established Netiquette discussion groups with Linkedin and  Yahoo I am also a member of the International Business Etiquette and Protocol Group and Minding Manners among others. I regularly consult for the Gerson Lehrman Group, a worldwide network of subject matter experts and I have been contributing to the blogs Everything Email and emailmonday . My work has appeared in numerous publications and I have presented to groups such as The Breakfast Club of NJ Rider University and  PSG of Mercer County New Jersey.


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