Older People on the Internet: Keys to Safe Surfing

Did you know that in 2021 life expectancy in Spain reached 83.3 years? This means that we are living longer and longer. And thanks to the development of information and communication technology, we are leading increasingly connected lives. This presents society with the challenge of enabling older people to surf the Internet safely.

The health crisis accelerated connectivity, which was no longer a trend but a reality: teleworking is now consolidated, as are online commerce and entertainment, telemedicine, digital banking and the way we keep in touch with loved ones remotely to step.

In 2021, Spain became the most affected country due to the increase in remote activities. According to data from its latest Computer Threats Report prepared by cybersecurity firm ESET, Spain suffered more than 51 billion desktop attacks, far more than the attacks on France (21 billion), Germany (19 billion) and Poland (18 billion). Bad data due to global growth in telecommuting.

Older people on the internet: news and updates

20% of the Spanish population, about nine and a half million people, are elderly. In the current scenario, the number of people over 65 who have gone digital has also increased. This is what the Unión Democrática de Pensionistas y Jubilados de España (Democratic Union of Pensioners and Pensioners of Spain), UDP, points out in its latest report on the digital divide regular use of the internet by this group of people has increased in recent yearsfrom 32.7% in 2017 to 60% in 2021.

The MayoresUDP scale indicates this exchanging “messages with family and friends” via WhatsApp or SMS as the main use of the internet among older people with 85.1%, followed by 80.8% for people who use the internet to get good information. Other common activities are the related ones to banking and healthcare or to online shopping. However, it states that among “older, less educated and less affluent people” the variety of digital activities declines significantly.

Elderly people at cyber risk

One of the most common complaints of the older population is the lack of technological skills and the need for personal support or help with video conferencing, online shopping and banking. And yet, in many cases, the elders had to learn in every possible way. Their lack of experience has made them a target for cyber criminals.

phishing is still one of the most common cyber scams. This is the identity takeover of companies like the bank through emails. Many of these messages contain links to deceptive websites or malicious file attachments that upon download install malicious software or malware, thereby infecting the elderly person’s device.

Another common digital scam is Smishing, a kind of hoax via SMS, WhatsApp or voice messages. Here, too, cybercriminals pose as well-known companies such as parcel delivery companies, electricity or banking companies or authorities that inspire trust. Both text messages and voice messages are designed to transmit personal information such as passwords, phone numbers, banking information, etc.

Finally, we can highlight a third danger that older people often face on the Internet: online shopping. Creating attractive fake online stores with fake products is the gateway to their victims’ money. Cyber ​​criminals can also steal important information from our elders through great offers or copying the image of well-known brands: passwords, personal data, etc.

Keys to safe web browsing for people 60’s and older

To solve the problems of the elderly on the Internet, the National Institute for Cybersecurity, INCIBEPart of the Ministry of Economy and Digital Transformation, has promoted a number of Cyber ​​Security Awareness initiatives to Help them enjoy the internet safely. This organization aims to improve the digital skills of users over 60 years old and their cyber helpers or technological leaders with specific training materials that will allow them to acquire the basic knowledge needed to safely navigate the Internet.

The Internet Security Office, OSI, has prepared a campaign entitled “Senior Experience” in which it reminds us of a series of tips that we can pass on to our elders, so that they can learn to recognize the risks on the Internet themselves. To identify risks such as fake offers and fraud, to identify reliable shopping websites, to use secure payment methods.

In addition to these tips we must Also Teach older people that they are the best cybersecurity tool. For example, we should talk to them about the need to keep their devices’ operating systems and antivirus software up to date, to enable two-step verification systems whenever possible, to always opt for strong passwords, and not to give out personal information without confirming who you are Speak up and be wary of certain types of email where the sender or the purpose of the message is unclear.

By understanding how older people surf the internet and the dangers they face, we can help them surf more safely, be digitally independent and have fun healthy aging.

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