Cyber Security: 9 simple things seniors can do to protect themselves online | MHIA Insurance
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Cyber Security: 9 simple things seniors can do to protect themselves online

Worried about your data and identity theft? There are some simple things you can do to protect yourself and avoid your information being breached, stolen and exposed. Follow our simple guide and get cyber secure!

6 minute read

October is Cyber Security Awareness month so what better time to look at some ways to help keep seniors safe and secure online

The recent Optus hack has put cyber security firmly in the spotlight. And for good reason. Did you know 99% of Australian adults have access to the internet? Senior Australians are more likely to use a tablet or desktop computer to stay in touch with family and friends, play their favourites online games or find the best place to have lunch as they enjoy their retirement.

But it doesn’t really matter how we’re getting online or what we’re doing there, what matters is keeping safe once we logon. The month of October is all about Cyber Security Awareness and it’s the perfect time to share some handy tips about staying safe online. We’ll also include some helpful links and resources at the end of this article.

1. Keep your mobile, desktop, laptop and tablet updated

Updates to your computer, mobile phone or tablet will keep your devices more secure while improving their performance. Your data and personal information is precious so cyber criminals and hackers are always looking for ways to access this information via your device. Installing software updates fixes any weaknesses, helping you keep the bad guys out of your personal and private info!

2. Back up your device

Just as important as installing updates is backing up your device. A back up is when you copy important files onto another separate device. For example, if you use a tablet, back up onto your desktop computer or laptop. Backups keep your precious photos and essential information safe and secure should there be an issue or your favourite device is lost, stolen or hacked.

3. Make those passwords strong

Do you keep forgetting your password? Maybe a passphrase is a better option. Stronger and more secure than passwords, they consist of four or more random words. Think ‘duck boat house pink’ or ‘Paris train purple donkey’. Much more difficult to crack than a simple password and you can have a lot of fun coming up with your clever new passphrase. And if it gives you a bit of a chuckle, you’re more likely to remember it.

4. Use a password manager to keep your passwords secure

By this point in your online life you’ll have passwords and emails coming out of your ears. What better way to protect them - and remember them - than by setting up a password manager to securely store all of your passwords in one place. Think of it like one big bank vault, with all of your log in details behind a massive door only you can access. These are usually a cloud based software that uses strong encryption to protect your passwords. Do some research online to find the best one to suit you.

5. Don’t click on dodgy links

Do you really think you have a second cousin in the UK who’s died and left you an $8.7M inheritance? Would your bank, energy provider or insurer send you an email with incorrect spelling while asking you to click on a link to update your personal details?

If you receive an email that seems, odd, strange or a bit on the nose it probably is. Before you click any links or download any elements an easy place to check is if the email looks legitimate. Click the email itself to see who it actually came from. Most, if not all, companies have an official domain after the @ symbol or a logical title before it. Chances are it’s a scam if the emails don’t match up to who the sender says it is and you could lose more than your private info if you help the crooks gain access to your bank accounts. Unless you’ve chatted with someone directly or on the phone and they’ve confirmed they’ll be sending you an email, if it looks dodgy, it probably is.

6. Be a multi tasker

If you’re not already using one, start using multi-factor authentication (MFA) on your accounts. An MFA means to access your account, you’ll need more than one piece of information to do so. You may need to give a password and also respond to a text or email. Think of it like setting the alarm and locking the doors when you leave your car – the extra layer of security makes it just that bit harder for a criminal to steal your stuff and can alert you when an attempt has been made.

7. Be wary of new friends online

Meeting new friends with similar interests is one of the best parts of being active in the online community. But you still need to stay alert because not everyone you meet online has your best interests at heart. If someone tells you a sob story and asks for money, don’t do it. If someone is pushing you to give them personal details or even meet them in person, use those instincts or speak to people you trust for a second opinion. If you feel uncomfortable, end the conversation or new friendship immediately. You’re not being impolite or rude, you’re being smart and protecting yourself online.

8. Use antivirus software

Never underestimate the power of some good anti-virus software. Most will charge an annual fee but you may be able to use the same software to protect all your devices – mobile phone, laptop, tablet and desktop computer. No matter how careful you are, anyone can be tricked by the very clever, very professional looking and sounding scammers into clicking a dodgy link in an email or text message.

9. Are you an Apple product user?

Do you use an iPhone, iPad, Mac or Apple Watch? If you answered yes, you might be surprised to learn Apple Stores offer free workshops on their core products and services. Classes are free, last for 60 or 90 minutes, can be in-person or online (check your local store) and are led by an in-store Apple product expert.

The classes are a great way to learn how to keep your favourite device more secure, make friends and maybe even pick up some skills to show off to your kids or grandkids next time they think they know everything 😉

Useful links to keep you safe

As a MHIA customer, we can’t help you stay safe online but we can give you the peace of mind knowing your Home And Contents Insurance is in safe hands. For more information on our policies, contact us by phone, email or Facebook.