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Senior Tech Corner: Tips for Online Security

These days, security is more important than ever. It’s simple to visualize things that could go wrong in everyday life—a break-in, an accident, theft—but it’s more difficult to imagine all the ways that things could go wrong in the digital world. Threats to online security are mostly invisible, distant, and always changing, and it can be challenging to keep up with all the steps one must take to stay safe online. We suggest doing your best to stay informed of the latest security measures recommended by the experts, but here are some general tips for staying secure on the web:

  • In your web browser: disable cookies, don’t consent to share your data, and clear your cache often.

Whether it’s on a laptop, tablet, or smartphone, each browser has its own protocol for disabling cookies and clearing the history/cache, so enter “[browser name] disable cookies” or “[browser name] clear cache” into a search engine to find out how to do it in your preferred browser. This will make it more difficult for people to track you online.

  • Never send sensitive or potentially damaging information via email, instant messenger, message board, chat room, etc.

There are ways to encrypt the information you send through the internet, such as a virtual private network (VPN), but the best way to stay secure is to exercise caution with the data you transmit. Before you hit send, ask yourself: how bad would it be if a copy of this were sent to everyone in my senior living community?

  • When you’re shopping online, exercise extra caution. Only use sites you trust, and be conservative about giving out your credit card number.
    • Check the website address (URL) of any site you’re considering buying anything from. Make sure it’s the website you think it is, and only buy things via a website whose address begins with “https://” — not just “http://” — that extra “s” indicates a more secure server, meaning that your information is less vulnerable to hackers.
  • Don’t use electronic checks or a debit card to purchase anything online. Having anything out there that’s directly connected to your bank account is just a bad situation waiting to happen. Instead, use a credit card. That way, if the card number winds up in the wrong hands, your tangible money won’t be affected while the credit card company and police investigate the incident.

These tips only address a few of the main threats we encounter online every day. It’s also important to keep your personal photos and information on social media safe, know how to spot a suspicious email or fraudulent news story, create strong passwords (long ones with a mix of symbols, numbers, letters, etc.)—the list goes on and on. However, by staying informed and adopting good habits, we can get the most out of technology while keeping our information and ourselves safe. If you’re interested in learning more about assisted living, independent living, memory care, or any of the many programs & activities we offer, please contact Village Park Senior Living for more information. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook for updates and to check back often for new blogs.