How Can I Help My Elderly Friends And Relatives Protect Themselves On The Internet?

For many of us, we have grown up in an age of computers and electronic devices all around us. So when the era of the internet came to pass, there was a leap of knowledge that was needed to adjust but the divide was not that great. For the elderly among us, they can remember a time before the digital age and some of the new technology can seem enticing but yet strange and alien at the same time. Most scams run on the internet today are perpetrated against the elderly. Hopefully I can give you some tips to protect your loved ones.


Protecting Your Loved Ones

Some people will make a joke and say if you want to protect people from the dangers of the Internet then get a Mac or Linux box and tell them not to use Windows. This is funny but not true especially these days. Macs are becoming more and more popular and everyday new exploits are being found that can be used against them. Exploits are becoming more common and big business on all systems so security is a top priority for all of them. The fact is that most people use a Windows version operating system so you will have to show them how to protect themselves on such machines.

Email Security

The first thing that you will want to tell them is to be skeptical when it comes to email. People believe that it takes a highly technical genius to scam people on the internet. This is simply not true. Most attacks on people, especially the elderly, are low tech email scams. They will either involve sending a link to a person to get their information through phishing or just a straight out direct scam to get the person to send them money. A lot of the elderly believe everything that they read in their emails and have to be told the many, many different ways that people can be scammed through them. You should also teach them basic email security.

Malicious Programs

Another thing that they must be instructed on, is not to open any programs that are sent to them outside of their family or friends. Scammers will send friendly looking e-cards and other digital goodies through an email attachment. Most people would not think that an e-card with hearts and flowers on it would hold a digital ticking time bomb. Looks can be deceiving though. The elderly, just like everyone else, must be taught that attachments, no matter what they look like, can be dangerous.

Safe Communications

A new attack but one that is growing everyday is the use of the software program Skype to send links to a phishing site. There are a lot of elderly people that use Skype as a cheap and easy way to talk to and see videos of their loved ones. Their relatives might set it up for them so they can be confused as to who is sending a link to them. Skype has a lot of spammers now and the elderly must be warned that it has become just like their emails so they must remain vigilant.

Hopefully I have gone over several ways that you can help protect the elderly in your life when they use a computer. It is a new world that they are in so maybe you can help them navigate it.

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.


  1. […] this article I will show you some of the things that you need to tell your friends and relatives about, when they use the internet in an open […]

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