Three Helpful Tips to Increase Your Technology Security
Written by Guest Blogger Amir Sheybani, Amishey Tech Services LLC.
Most American seniors are now online. As of 2018, nearly 66% of Americans over 65 were Internet users, according to a Pew Research Center survey, and that number is only growing larger. The Internet is a great way to read the latest news, stay in touch with family, get medical information, manage appointments, renew prescriptions, etc. It’s how many of us shop and bank without leaving our homes. Like all powerful tools, the Internet and mobile technologies come with some risks. The good news is that these risks can be mitigated by keeping in mind some fundamental security tips. Today we will discuss three of the most important ones.
- Don’t respond to or click on pop-up windows on your phone or computer: Screen pop-ups are another way to scam older adults. A common pop-up ploy is scareware. This is a malware (“malicious software”) scam technique that uses pop-up security alerts and other tricks to frighten you into downloading or paying for fake software disguised as real cybersecurity protection. How does scareware work? An “urgent” pop-up window appears on your computer or phone, telling you that your device is compromised and needs repairing. When you call the support number for help, the scammer may either ask for remote access to your computer or request a fee to fix it.
Another malware technique is to use deceptive “Close” or “X” buttons, which automatically install a virus when you click on them. If you’ve unknowingly downloaded scareware onto your device, delete the downloaded file immediately. It’s also a good idea to install genuine antivirus software that can remove any harmful remnants of the malware.
- Don’t click on links in email or on social media: Be sure to always avoid clicking on hyperlinks (or clickable links) from banks, credit card companies, government agencies, or other organizations, unless you’re 100% certain they are legitimate. There is a common scam, called phishing, where someone sends you a link to what looks like a legitimate website, but it’s actually a scam site created by criminals to steal your login or other personal information. Even if the company name is part of the Web address, it could still be a scam. Your safest bet is to type in the Web address like you normally do and if in doubt, call the organization.
- Ignore unsolicited phone calls and “robocalls.”: Treat any unsolicited phone calls with skepticism. Voice phishing scams use sophisticated phone technology and are a common way for scammers to defraud seniors. What is voice phishing? When you answer the phone, a live person or recorded voice gives you false information that sounds important and time-sensitive. They may claim to be a young relative in trouble or say that your car’s warranty is expiring, and payment is required. Or, the caller may claim to be from “tech support” and tell you, falsely, that your computer is infected with a virus and you need to get it repaired. They may then request remote access to your device—or require you to pay a fee. You may be asked to provide personal information, which could be used later to steal your money or your identity. The person on the other end of the phone may try to pressure you—or even use threats.
Keep in mind that government entities, such as the IRS, will never call you asking for sensitive information. And technology companies won’t call you out of the blue to offer you technical support or assistance. Avoid giving money to someone over the phone, especially wire transfers, gift cards, and fines or bail. The best thing to do, as soon as you hear that recorded voice start, is to say nothing and just hang up.
Internet safety for adults is important, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. Awareness is a powerful first step in protecting yourself. There are, however, times when some professional help may be advisable. If you feel that some guidance from an IT professional is what you need to keep you and your technology secure, Amishey Tech Services LLC is here to assist. Amishey is a mobile, comprehensive technology service company that will come to you for all your technology needs, both personal and professional. You can visit our website at www.amisheytechservices.com to learn more about us and our services, and you can contact us by phone at 443-943-4440 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a complimentary, in-home consultation.