Digital Oldies: Staying safe online in later life

The internet has changed our lives. From making it possible to video message someone at the other side of the world to being able to answer questions on the spot, the benefits seem endless.

However, there is also a darker side of the World Wide Web. The birth of the internet gave scammers a new outlet, and it's sometimes difficult to know who you can and can't trust online.

This shouldn't deter you from making the most of the internet, no matter your age. We’ve created a quick guide to help you make simple changes to improve your online protection.

The key things to focus on are

  • Your privacy settings
  • How to watch out for financial scams
  • The importance of a strong password
  • Online protection

Privacy settings

Many of us use social networks like Facebook to share our lives with family and friends. This is one of the biggest benefits of using the internet, but it's important that you're aware of who you're allowing to see your photos and personal information. Facebook's privacy settings means you can control who you're sharing your posts with and who is able to view profile information.

The best way to avoid people you don't know accessing your photos is to switch all of these settings to 'Friends Only' and closely monitor who you are accepting friend requests from. It's better to have ten friends you know in person than 100 who you’re not so sure of. You should also be wary of any 'friends' creating new profiles and sending you requests as this is a popular scam.

Financial scams

It can be difficult to spot a financial scam online but anything claiming to owe you money, or claiming you owe them money cannot be trusted, even when the email looks like it’s come from a major company or your bank.

If you're worried that the communication may be genuine, don't respond to the email itself. Instead, call your bank or the company in question to see whether they have any record of the correspondence. You should never enter your bank details or any login information unless you've gone directly to the site yourself.

Cyber criminals are smarter than ever so there is no shame in reaching out to someone else for help if you're worried you've been the victim of a scam online.

Strong passwords

Strong passwords typically have a combination of letters, number and capitals that don't relate to personal details such as your birthday or anniversary. This can make passwords difficult to remember, so many people like to keep the same one for multiple accounts. However, this is a security risk, as if a hacker works out the login details they can access more than just one account. Instead, share them with someone you trust and set up security questions on all your accounts so you can easily recover passwords if you need them.

Protect yourself

Ensuring your computer has antivirus and security software installed will help limit - or even prevent - any damage being caused by online scams. You should also be wary of any webpages that don't look professional. If you're online shopping, ensure that all websites you use have a little padlock near the URL at the top of the page before you enter any details. You can also determine how secure a webpage is by looking at the URL. ‘Https’ is much more secure than ‘http’.

Browsing the World Wide Web should be an empowering experience that connects you with endless amounts of information, as well as your loved ones. These simple steps will help to ensure nothing ruins your fun.