Senior Safety Online

While having dinner at a nearby retirement home with some friends of my mother’s I saw signs of cybercrime polluting the tranquil ponds of their lives. In between sharing family updates and reminiscences from the past, I learned that my friend Page uses email, but has heard from correspondents that her account’s been infected. Since this happened twice in the last two weeks and she’s using the public computer in the library, I told her my guess is that the computer she uses is itself infected. 

 “Why would anyone want to do that?” she asked. This necessitated a primer from me on the cybercrime economy – tales of botnets, spam and DDOS – all of which my audience seemed to find fascinating but a bit over their heads.

They then told me their passwords 🙁 and I gave them a little advice on password strength. I offered to help clean the public computer, but they said the facility’s IT person was already planning to look at it. None of this game me the sense that I’d solved their problems though I was relieved that Page displayed some native caution in that she doesn’t use the computer for banking or any official business. 

Having left the night behind with a vague feeling of inadequacy, I was exciting yesterday to see that Christopher Burgess, CEO at Prevendra and a man with a great store of security-related experience, has taken up the challenge of protecting elders who often approach the Internet with an innocence of bygone times that belies their great experience in other most walks of life.

In this, Christopher has found an important calling. As he puts it during an interview with Tripwire that provides excellent background on himself and project: “This demographic is quickly becoming a favorite target for cyber scammers because they are thought to be less savvy about technology uses, less informed about online safety precautions, and are more likely to be engaged in online financial transactions than their teenage counterparts.”

See the interview, this link to the Senior Online Safety site and the Facebook page above for some content on senior-specific risks – such as medical fraud, financial scams and cons, and one ring scams to premium call numbers – as well generally good advice for anyone online. 
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