Online Security: Quit Asking the Kids

31/01/2016 19:50

We've all been there. Either sheepishly asking our kids, 'how do you do that thing that makes it stop beeping', or on the other side sighing as you pick up your father's phone and see 36 notifications in the task bar. But those days could be numbered.

Whilst it seems modern children are born into this world with the innate ability to mind-meld with technology, so too is our older generation growing more tech savvy. In fact when it comes to social media adoption, over 50's are the fastest growing user base. Whether online shopping, online banking or catching up with friends and family on social media, you don't have to look far to see silver surfers taking advantage of all the internet has to offer.

And what do they have on their side? Well an infinitely better approach to security by the looks of things - so much so that they could show millennials a thing or two about protecting themselves online.

Keeping up with the kids

Once considered an 'easy' target by cybercriminals recent research has found only 15 percent of over 50's fell victim to online crime last year, compared to double the number of millenials (31 percent). And, despite 41 percent of Brits believing over 50's stand the highest chance of experiencing cybercrime, Millennials - born in a digital era - are more likely to experience and fall victim to cybercrime.

Why? Because the over 50 generation are the ones taking the required steps to protect their personal content when online. According to Norton's Cybersecurity Insights Report, two fifths (38 percent) said they always use a 'secure password' - a combination of at least eight letters, numbers and symbols - and nearly half (49 percent) use a 'secure password' across all of their online accounts. But it's not all rosy, despite nailing the passwords, only 54 percent of those over 50 knew how to update the privacy settings on their phones.

The Knowledge Gap

Cybercriminals are becoming increasingly personal and targeted with attacks. This involves using your individual data, all of which is available online, to create personalised emails and alerts that appear legitimate. In such cases having a strong password is only one layer of the protection process - you need to be able to identify fraudulent content, know how to report it and ensure the necessary filters in place to avoid the lure of cybercriminals in the first instance.

As cybercriminals continue to evolve their approach for attack, we as consumers must continually evolve our approach to defence - regardless of age. Failure to do so, and an over reliance on a single prevention method (such as strong passwords) can leave you wide open to attack.

Adopting a 360 approach to online safety

To help protect yourself and your personal data in the future, here's our top tips for spotting targeted scams, and some advice on how you can put the correct filters/settings in place to avoid the lure of cybercriminals:

  • Be cautious when downloading apps

Our recent Internet Security Threat Report analysed 6.3 million Android apps and found that one million of these were classified as malware - that's nearly one in six apps. To avoid falling victim to rogue apps always make sure you download content from the official application store. While these apps are still vulnerable to attacks, the official store is less likely to host malicious content than unregulated app stores.

  • Make sure your privacy features aren't giving too much away

To take advantage of many online services, you will inevitably have to provide personal information in exchange for the service - as the old adage goes, if you're not paying, you're the product. For services such as Facebook and Twitter it's important to pay attention to the privacy policies (and the small print) - find out how your data is being used and who it will be shared with should you sign up to the service.

  • Make sure you can spot illegitimate websites

Shopping, banking, or any other website that requires your sensitive information should begin with "https:" (i.e. The "s" stands for secure and should appear in the URL when you are asked to exchange your details. Keep an eye out for the padlock symbol in the web address field. The padlock, and a green address field means that the page is secure

  • Be sure to watch out for hidden bugs when online shopping

What does malware have to do with online shopping? Maybe plenty if your device has been infected with a keylogger or Trojan. Once your device is infected, this insidious software sits behind the scenes - unbeknown to you - and records every keystroke, secretly sending back information to the cybercriminals who planted the bug. Luckily there's a quick fix for this one - keep your security software up to date and any bugs lurking on your computer, laptop or smartphone will be detected and can be removed.