How to Talk to Your Grandparents About Cybersecurity

Tips & Advice

According to research from the FBI and FTC, cybercrimes against older adults cost more than $650 million in losses each year. Why? Unlike millennials and Generation Z, your grandparents weren’t born with a smartphone in their hands. On top of that, older adults tend to have more significant financial funds like retirement accounts, making them an ideal target for cybercriminals.  

With Grandparent’s Day right around the corner, here’s a guide on how you can help keep your grandparents safe from the most common cybercrimes on the internet. Check out our top tips to share with your family to boost their confidence in their digital activities.  

1. Talk About the Latest Online Scams  

Cybercriminals constantly update their techniques to increase their chances of successfully stealing consumers’ data. Oftentimes, they lean on current events to create eye-catching subject lines for phishing emails, malicious links and attachments, and more. For example, criminals created COVID-19 phishing campaigns related to proof of vaccination or the surging delta variant since they know the pandemic is top-of-mind for many consumers. Encourage your grandparents to keep an eye on the news for the latest online scams so they have a better chance of recognizing fraudulent activity. Or better yet, send them a weekly digest of relevant consumer security news or call them when you come across a common scam.  Remind them that knowledge is power in online security.  

2. Show Them How to Think Like a Cybercriminal 

The secret to beating cybercriminals at their own game is to think like one. Look at your online behaviors and your data from their perspective. Encourage your grandparents to consider what would make themselves ideal targets. Perhaps they have large retirement funds. If their online bank account is secured with a password that they use for multiple online accounts, they’ve made it that much easier for a hacker to access their financial data if their credentials are exposed in a breach.  

Teaching your grandparents and other family members how to think like a cybercriminal can reveal possible points of entry and identify where they can tighten up their security to protect their devices and information from online threats.  

3. Explain Cybersecurity Best Practices 

With multiple layers of protection in place, your grandparents can navigate the internet more confidently. Here are a few easy cyber habits you can pass on to your grandparents:  

  • Use strong, unique passwords. Many people use the same password, or variations of it, across all of their accounts. This means if a cybercriminal discovers just one password, more personal data is suddenly at risk. Therefore, diversify your passcodes to ensure criminals cannot obtain access to all of your accounts at once, should one password be compromised. You can also use a password manager to keep track of your different credentials.  
  • Turn on multi-factor authentication. Multi-factor authentication provides an extra layer of security, as it requires multiple forms of verification, such as a finger scan or facial recognition. This reduces the risk of successful impersonation by cybercriminals.  
  • Ignore suspicious emails, text messages, and phone calls. Criminals often use phishing emails or text messages to distribute and disguise their malicious code. Do not open suspicious or irrelevant messages, as this can result in malware infection. Be especially wary if written messages have several typos. Reputable businesses and financial institutions always proofread their correspondence. Finally, phishing emails, texts, and calls often urge recipients to act quickly. Remain calm and carefully evaluate if the content of the message seems suspicious.   
  • Go directly to the source. If you receive an email that appears to be from a business or even a family member, but they are asking you for your Social Security Number, passwords, or money, stop and think. Don’t click on anything or take any direct action from the message. Instead, go straight to the organization’s website and verify that the message is legitimate with customer service. If the message claims to be from a family member asking for financial help, contact them directly to ensure it’s not a scammer in disguise.  

4. Teach Your Grandparents How to Report Cybercrimes 

 The next step to a confident digital life is reporting fraud. Let your grandparents know that even if the fraud attempt was unsuccessful, they should report the incident.  Any consumer can report online scams at the FBI’s IC3 website. Credit, debit, or bank account fraud should be immediately reported to your bank, as well.  

5. Help Them Install Comprehensive Security Software  

Use a solution like McAfee Total Protection, which can help protect devices against malware, phishing attacks, and other threats. It also includes McAfee WebAdvisor, a tool that identifies malicious websites, and identity theft protection. Having a security solution in place can help provide greater peace of mind so you and your family can live a more confident digital life.  

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