5 online security tips for older adults


Whether you feel completely confident browsing online or need a helping hand when it comes to email and social media, it’s worth brushing up on how to keep yourself safe online. Along with ensuring that you have appropriate antivirus software installed – and that you keep it up-to-date – keep these five tips in mind.

1. Avoid putting personal information online

If you enjoy spending time on social media platforms like Facebook, be cautious about how much personal information you post online. Avoid putting cellphone numbers, address details, ID numbers or any other private information on a public platform where it can be copied or shared.

2. Use strong passwords

Make sure all of your online accounts are protected by strong passwords. According to antivirus software company Norton by Symantec, these passwords should be at least eight characters long and should contain a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters as well as symbols and numbers.

3. Be wary of spam emails

Never click on links or open or download attachments in unsolicited emails. And even if you’ve received an email from someone you know, be cautious about clicking on a link unless you’re absolutely certain that it’s safe. (Find out about online scams here).

4. Use secure websites

If you’re planning on doing some online shopping (or any other online transaction), make sure you use well-known and secure websites. How do you know if a website is secure? Check the browser address bar – it should display a little padlock icon and the URL should start with https://.

5. Don’t fall for fake news stories

Seen an article on social media that seems a little far-fetched? Before hitting the share button, take a few minutes to check whether it’s legitimate or not. You can do that by googling the topic to see whether it’s been covered by reputable news sources, or you can see whether it’s listed as a hoax on the handy fact-checking website Snopes.com.

Heard of two-factor authentication?

Many sites these days use a security feature called two-factor authentication or 2FA, which provides extra security for your online accounts. So, how does it work? According to Investopedia.com, “2FA increases the safety of online accounts by requiring two types of information from the user, such as a password or PIN, an email account, an ATM card or fingerprint, before the user can log in. The first factor is the password; the second factor is the additional item.” For example, if one of your online accounts requires that you not only enter your password to access your account but also a One Time Pin which is sent to you via SMS, they are using 2FA.