An Explanation Of Phishing for Seniors
By Tom Seest
At BestCyberSecurityNews, we help seniors understand cybersecurity principles, attacks, and solutions.
Phishing is a type of cyber attack where the attacker, pretending to be a trusted entity, tries to trick people into revealing sensitive personal information such as passwords, credit card numbers, or Social Security numbers. They usually do this via email, but phishing can also occur through phone calls, text messages, or social media.
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Senior citizens can be attractive targets for cybercriminals due to a few key factors. Firstly, many seniors are less familiar with technology and the Internet than younger generations, making it harder for them to identify malicious activities. Secondly, seniors often have a lifetime’s worth of savings and investments, making them lucrative targets for financial scams.
Cybercriminals often use fear or urgency in their phishing attacks against seniors. For example, they may send an email claiming that their bank account has been compromised and immediate action is required. This is designed to create panic and cause the senior to act without thinking.
The first step in protecting oneself from phishing is awareness. Seniors need to understand that not every email, call, or text they receive is legitimate, even if it appears to come from a trusted source like their bank or a family member.
When it comes to identifying phishing attacks, there are several red flags to watch out for:
Urgency: As mentioned earlier, phishing attacks often try to create a sense of urgency. Be suspicious of any messages that demand immediate action.
Spelling and Grammar: Phishing emails often contain poor spelling and grammar. Legitimate organizations typically proofread their messages carefully.
Unfamiliar Email Addresses: If the sender’s email address is unfamiliar or doesn’t match the organization they’re claiming to be, it’s likely a phishing attempt.
Requests for Personal Information: Legitimate organizations will never ask for sensitive information via email or text. If a message is asking for this information, it’s a red flag.
If a senior suspects they’ve received a phishing message, they should not click any links, download any attachments, or provide any personal information. Instead, they should report the message to their email provider and delete it.
If they believe they have fallen victim to a phishing attack, it’s important to act quickly. They should contact their bank and any other relevant institutions immediately to let them know what has happened. They may also want to change their passwords and monitor their accounts for any unusual activity.
- Secure Websites: Before entering any personal information online, ensure the website is secure. A secure website’s URL will begin with ‘https’, not ‘http’. If it’s not secure, do not enter any personal information.
- Two-Factor Authentication: For added security, enable two-factor authentication (2FA) on your online accounts. This requires two types of identification, such as a password and a code sent to your mobile phone.
- Regular Software Updates: Keep your software, including antivirus software, updated. Software updates often include patches for security vulnerabilities.
- Education: Continuously learn about common online scams and how to avoid them. There are many resources available, including online courses and workshops specifically designed to help seniors navigate the digital world safely.
- Trust No One: It’s okay to be skeptical. If you receive an unexpected email or call asking for personal information, even if it appears to be from a friend or family member, verify the request independently before providing any information.
- Regular Monitoring of Accounts: Regularly monitor your financial and online accounts for any suspicious activity. If you notice anything unusual, report it immediately.
- Scam Reporting: Be aware of where and how to report suspected phishing attempts and scams. In the U.S., for example, you can report scams to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) through their website.
In conclusion, while seniors can be targeted by phishing attacks, with awareness, education, and caution, they can protect themselves and their information from these cyber threats. It’s important for seniors to understand the risks and to take active steps to safeguard their online presence. Stay safe in the digital world by being informed, vigilant, and proactive.
Be sure to review all our other articles on BestCyberSecurityNews and enjoy using the internet as a tool in your life.