Increasingly, Americans want to be instantly connected to each other and the wider world, no matter where we are, and the most common route for connectivity is the Internet. From a practical perspective, networking in a broader sense is really all-encompassing, making it possible to search for and access online information, shop online, use social media, get cash from an ATM, watch television, make phone calls, and more.
But, as you've seen in recent news headlines about cyberattacks, connecting can have consequences. Americans expect that makers of computer hardware and software, as well as network providers, take cybersecurity seriously and provide mechanisms to keep customers protected from viruses, malware, and cyberattacks. Even if they do, however, we need to take individual responsibility for protecting our own identities and personal information. This becomes all the more challenging when we expose ourselves to others online. As some of us find out, the online world can be more dangerous than we imagine.
Sadly, older Americans seem to be more vulnerable to online attacks and, perhaps even worse, to deception. According to the Department of Homeland Security, seniors are defrauded at twice the rate of the rest of the population. It can never be repeated too often: Never give out personal information online or over the phone if you are unsure of the authenticity of the person or organization asking for it. In addition, follow the basics of good online security practices: Never click on links in emails unless you know the sender, do not visit banking and other financial sites over public Wi-Fi networks, secure your smartphone with a password and/or fingerprint, and use passwords that are difficult to hack. On this last point, you might want to consider using a password manager, such as LastPass or Dashlane, for extra protection.
An excellent objective resource for Boomers concerned about cybersecurity is the Department of Homeland Security's "Stop. Think. Connect." resource guide. It has lots of helpful information and you can find it here: http://www.stcguide.com/explore/older-americans
All of us need to be conscious of cybersecurity, especially today.