You bought your new smart phone so you can talk and text with your grandchild at college. Maybe you’ve invested in a tablet and your granddaughter has shown you the basics, transforming your reading, even exercise and cooking habits, as you are able to pull up the latest novel, fitness regimen or recipe on your e-reader.
That’s all well and good, but knowing “just enough to be dangerous” online can be dangerous to your privacy, leaving you open to email fraud, identity theft, and more.
Thankfully, there are a few very simple precautions you can take to safeguard your information. And while no safety measures are completely impervious to hacking (wouldn’t it be great if they used their powers for good?), they’re simple enough that you might even be able to teach your grandchild a thing or two about online safety!
According to Atlanta Journal-Constitution technology columnist Bill Husted (the “Technobuddy”), the most important things you can do include:
Strong Passwords – using your dog’s name and your son’s birthday is too easy for hackers to crack. Instead, make your password a jumble – not a word – mixing letters, numbers, even symbols. You can still make it easy to remember. Maybe your current password of “FIDO28” becomes F4D6#28” (using the numbers that correspond with the vowels on the keypad of your phone, and adding a symbol between the word and the birthdate gives you a stronger password that you can still remember).
Don’t Click It If You Don’t Recognize It – one of the most common errors is clicking on links sent via emails, or opening links to product placements in spam emails. You never know what can of “e-worms” you might be opening up on your computer. Links are often used by hackers to gain access to your computer, where they can release viruses, collect sensitive data and more. A good rule of thumb is “don’t open links.”
Invest in Antivirus Software – you’ve invested a significant sum of money in your smart phone, tablet or laptop, but the “up-sell” alarm goes off when the salesperson asks if you want anti-virus software. It’s worth the investment, whether you purchase up-front or through a service like Norton online, to protect your files and let you know if a virus has been detected.
Naive Users – that’s what Husted calls folks who surf the Internet and enter contests, sign up for email subscriptions, etc., without doing their homework. Contests and online games that want a bunch of information before you can receive the download are often a front for hackers. Steer clear of these and other online offers.
Security Questions/Answers – so you’ve been asked to provide your favorite pet’s name as a security password for your Facebook account or your online bank access. Trouble is, if a hacker gets in there, they can trace the information through Google: when you reference “my first dog, Fido,” or “Mom’s brother, Big Dave Smith,” they have the answer to your security question. Husted recommends using a sense of humor for these. Dog’s name, “sitstaybeg” and Mom’s maiden name, “waitingformisterright.”
Each Windsong active retirement community was designed to allow Boomers the time to dabble with new technology and keep up with family and friends – in person and online. With walkable streets and a private fitness center in the clubhouse, neighbors with similar life-stage experiences, and home designs that maximize accessibility, minimize hassles and provide opportunities to enjoy an active lifestyle without sacrificing style or luxury.
Welcome home to Windsong – Where Life’s A Breeze!