Older people on the Internet: the keys to safe surfing
Did you know that life expectancy in Spain reached 83.3 years in 2021? This means that we are living longer and longer. And thanks to the development of information and communication technologies, we lead increasingly connected lives. This poses the challenge for society to provide the elderly with safe internet browsing.
The health crisis has accelerated connectivity, which has ceased to be a trend to become a reality: teleworking is now consolidated, as are online commerce and leisure, telemedicine, digital banking and our relationships with our loved ones, from a distance.
In 2021, due to the rise of remote activities, Spain has become the most targeted country. According to data provided in its latest Cyber Threat Report, compiled by cybersecurity firm ESET, Spain suffered over 51 billion desktop attacks, much more than the unbridled attacks against France (21 billion), Germany (19 billion) and Poland (18 billion). Bad data driven by the growth of remote working across the world.
Seniors on the Internet: messages and news
20% of the Spanish population, some 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. In its latest report on the digital divide, the Unión Democrática de Pensionistas y Jubilados de España (Democratic Union of Pensioners and Pensioners of Spain), UDP, points out that regular internet use by this group of people has increased in recent yearsfrom 32.7% in 2017 to 60% in 2021.
The MayoresUDP scale indicates exchanging “messages with family and friends” via WhatsApp or SMS as the main use of the internet by the elderly, with 85.1%, followed by 80.8% for people who use the internet for information. Other common activities are those related to banking and health, or online shopping. However, he points out that among “older, less educated and less affluent people”, the various digital activities decrease significantly.
Older people in computer danger
One of the most common complaints among the elderly population is the lack of technological skills and the need for face-to-face assistance or help with video conferencing, online shopping and banking. And despite everything, the elders had to learn, in many cases, by all means. Their lack of experience has made them a target for cybercriminals.
Phishing remains one of the most common cyber scams. This is the impersonation of entities, such as the bank, through emails. Many of these messages include links to scam websites or malicious attachments which when downloaded will install malware or malicious software, thereby infecting the senior’s device.
Another common digital scam is smishing, a type of prank via SMS, WhatsApp or voicemail. In this case, the cybercriminals once again impersonate notorious companies such as package delivery companies, electricity companies or banks, or government agencies, which build trust. Text messages and voice messages are intended to obtain 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. The creation of attractive fake online stores with counterfeit products is the gateway to obtaining the money from their victims. Thus, through attractive offers or by copying the image of well-known brands, cybercriminals can also appropriate crucial information from our elders: passwords, personal data, etc.
Keys to surfing the Internet safely for people aged 60 and over
In order to solve the problems that the elderly have on the Internet, the National Institute of Cybersecurity, INCIBEwhich is part of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation, has promoted a series of cyber security awareness initiatives for help them enjoy the internet safely. This organization aims to improve the digital skills of users over 60 and their cyber-assistants or technological guides, with specific training materials allowing them to acquire the basic notions necessary to navigate with confidence on the Internet in complete safety. security.
The Internet Security Office, OSI, has prepared a campaign called Senior Experience in which they remind us of a series of tips that we can pass on to our elders so that they themselves can learn to identify the risks that exist on the Internet. To identify risks such as fake offers and scams, to identify reliable merchant sites, to use secure payment methods.
In addition to these tips, we must too teach seniors that the best cybersecurity tool is themselves. For example, we should talk to them about keeping their devices’ operating systems and anti-virus software up to date, enabling two-step verification systems whenever possible, always opting for passwords strong passwords, not to divulge personal information without confirming who you are, and be wary of certain types of emails where the sender or subject of the message is unclear.
If we know how older people surf the Internet and what kinds of dangers they are exposed to, we can help them surf more safely, be independent in the digital environment and enjoy healthy aging.