What Security Means to Elders
Recently, we conducted a survey of 600 families and professionals in the U.S. to better understand what matters to them—in terms of security and the lives they want to lead online. The following article reflects what they shared with us, and allows us to share it with you in turn, with the aim of helping you and your family stay safer and more secure. 1
Findings from Pew Research Center show that internet usage by elders has risen from an average of 14% in 2000 to 67% on average 2017. As these numbers continue to rise, we wanted to find out what was important to them—particularly as more and more of their lives go online.
While many of us take shopping, surfing, and banking online for granted, they mark a dramatic shift for elders. They’ve gone from the days when banking meant banker’s hours and paper passbook to around-the-clock banking and a mobile app. And even if they use the internet sparingly, banking, finances, and commerce have gone digital. Their information is out there, and it needs to be protected.
The good news is, elders are motivated.
What’s on the minds of elders when it comes to their security?
Most broadly, this sentiment captures it well: Technology may be new to me, but I still want to be informed and involved. For example, elders told us that they absolutely want to know if something is broken—and if so, how to fix it as easily as possible. In all, they’re motivated to get smart on the topic of security, get educated on how to tackle risks, and gain confidence that they go about their time on the internet safely. Areas of interest they had were:
Identity protection: This covers a few things—one, it’s monitoring your identity to spot any initial suspicious activity on your personal and financial accounts before it becomes an even larger one; and two, it’s support and tools for recovery in the even your identity is stolen by a crook. (For more on identity theft, check out this blog.)
Social Security monitoring: Government benefits are very much on the mind of elders, particularly as numerous agencies increasingly direct people to use online services to manage and claim those benefits. Of course, hackers and crooks have noticed. In the U.S., for example, Social Security identified nearly 63,000 likely fraudulent online benefit applications in fiscal 2018, according to the agency’s Office of the Inspector General, up from just 89 in fiscal 2015.
Scam prevention: An article from Protect Seniors Online cities some useful insights from the National Cyber Security Alliance and the Better Business Bureau. According to them there are five top scams in the U.S. that tend to prey on older adults.
- Tech support scams are run by people, sometimes over the phone, that pretend to be from a reputable company, which will then ask for access to your computer over the internet, install malware, and then claim there’s a problem. After that, they’ll claim to “help” you by removing that malware—for an exorbitant fee.
- Ransomware scams, where a crook will block access to your computer until you pay a sum of money. This is like the tech support scam, yet without the pretense of support—it’s straight-up ransom.
- Tax scams that attempt to steal funds by instructing people to make payments to a scammer’s account. In the U.S., note that the IRS will not call to demand payment or appeal an amount you owe.
- False debt collectors are out there too, acting in many ways like tax scammers. These will often come by way of email, where the hacker will hope that you’ll click the phony link or open a malicious attachment.
- Sweepstakes and charity scams that play on your emotions, where you’re asked to pay to receive a prize or make a donation with your credit card (thereby giving crooks the keys to your account).
Where can professionals get started?
With that, we’ve put together several resources related to these topics. Drop by our site and check them out. We hope you’ll find some basic information and knowledge of behaviors that can keep you safe.
Survey conducted in October 2019, consisting of 600 computer-owning adults in the U.S