Internet Safety isn’t Just for Kids – Why Older Adults Need Safe Surfing Practices Too

A recent study we conducted revealed Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation worry just as much, if not more, about online security and privacy than Gen Z¹.  

The FBI announced that during 2020, there were 105,301 complaints of internet fraud for people 60 years and older, totaling $966 million in losses. In our digital-first world, it’s crucial that Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) and the Silent generation (born between 1925 and 1945) – which are not digital natives – practice safe habits while online. 

Inherently, Baby Boomer and Silent generations tend to be more skeptical of online platforms tracking their data. A Forrester Research, Inc.² report showed us the majority of these two generations do not believe it’s okay for companies to track their activities across sites to receive more relevant ads. But what about the information that they don’t know is being tracked? 

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, so it’s a good time to revisit helpful tips to keep yourself or your loved ones from the Baby Boomer or Silent Generations to stay safe and protect your valuable, private information while on the internet. 

Prevent against password breaches

A crucial first step to protecting valuable information online is to password protect your accounts. The equally crucial second step is to ensure that your password is strong enough. AARP recommends using passwords with seven or more characters that include a number and symbol, like an exclamation point or asterisk. It’s important to vary your passwords across accounts, too. Otherwise, a hacker will have a one-and-done job after they breach a single password.

Use Two-factor authentication

To go the extra step, consider using two-factor authentication when creating your online accounts, which generates a one-time code that is sent to your mobile device or email to confirm your identity.

Don’t take the phishing bait

Another tactic that online hackers use to access your information is to send emails or text messages pretending to be someone else. This is phishing. These messages may look like they are from your boss, a family member, or even someone claiming you have won a contest. They will typically convey a sense of urgency to get their victims to act quickly and respond with personal information like their social security number (SSN) or bank account numbers (Age Safe America).

If you know to be cautious of these types of messages, you can prevent you or others from falling for phishing schemes and losing information privacy or money.

Resist the temptation to overshare on social media

Let’s talk social media. It’s fun to scroll through your feed and post photos or statuses, but you may be giving out more information than you realize. Age Safe America warns not to overshare on social media, which can occur through posting photos or statuses that contain information like your home address or place of work. Fun online quizzes, which are common on Facebook, also pose a potential danger because they may ask you to share your name, gender, birth year, etc. 

Tap into the online security features available through your internet and technology providers. At Cox, we offer tools to detect and prevent cyber-attacks, blocking unknown connections and scanning for any other network threats before you ever know about them. 

The internet is a great place to research, keep up with friends and family, and stay up-to-date on current events. It’s important to stay safe while surfing the web and to ensure that our loved ones know how to protect themselves, too.

Cox Communications Customer Tracking Study, 2021
Forrester Analytics Consumer Technographics Benchmark Survey
Chanelle Hawken is Vice President of Government and Public Affairs for Cox Communications’ California region.

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