Part 1 in our series: “ 5 Ways Retirees Should Protect Their Money During Retirement.”
There are many reasons why retirees should invest in a good cyber security system. To a cyber criminal, a retiree is a high value target because of the assumption that they have saved a lot of money for retirement, including funds for “leisure spending” on vacations, shopping for Christmas and birthdays for children and grandchildren. Therefore, retirees must be extra vigilant when vacationing, including how and and where they should shop for gifts.
The number of older Americans that use the internet increases each year. In 2016, 59% of older Americans were using the internet, representing a 6% increase since 2012, according to a report issued by the Department of Homeland Security. Let’s be clear, intelligent cyber criminals know are probably reading and researching ways to improve their chances of committing cyber theft.
There are a number of cyber-safety things that you should do to protect yourself and your money from people who have targeted retirees. For starters, you should always separate the lock from the key. For example, never use a password that is easy for someone to guess, such as your initials, the name of your pet, or simply the last four digits of your Social Security Number.
Do not make yourself an easy target for them! Please do not spend time and money to invest in a good cyber security system only to leave the back door unlocked and your front door opened by not choosing a username and password that is extremely difficult for someone to guess, or locate in your home or office?
For goodness sake, please don’t store login credentials on your personal computer, laptops and mobile devices as they can be stolen, lost by you or hacked by some criminally minded computer nerd.
Depending on how sensitive the data is that you need to protect, you may want to contact a Cyber Security company to ensure that your data is secure. For example, if you communicate frequently by email, then a cyber security professional could provide you with an encrypted email solution.
Therefore, whenever you send an email the contents (including any attachments) which are included with your email will only be accessible through an encrypted password.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) offers the following support for people who are the victims of a cyber crime. The following are a few resources and materials to help you stay cyber safe.
Protect yourself, your family, and your devices with tips and resources from the National Cyber Security Alliance.
Learn about the common fraud schemes aimed at older Americans from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Invest in a good cyber security system in order to avoid scams, protect your identity, and secure your computer with tips from the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) OnGuard Online.
File a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center or your State Attorney General’s Office if you are a victim of online crime.
Follow ten simple, customized steps from the Federal Communications Commission’s Smartphone Security Checker to secure your mobile phone. In addition, learn how to safely use public Wi-Fi networks and what steps to take if your phone is stolen.
According to the FBI’s Scams & Safety website, “seniors are highly targeted by scammers of all kinds because they are widely expected to have their own house, and have excellent credit…many were born in the 30s, 40s and 50s and were taught to be polite and trusting, hence scammers also expect older generations to be easier targets.”
Let’s discuss one of the most widely overlooked ways that retirees should protect themselves, by simply encrypting their email. Suppose you use Firefox as your internet browser, you can install the “Encrypted Communications” Add-on. Encrypted Communication provides a secure way to send messages by encrypting them before sending it.
Another helpful Firefox encryption tool is “ Encipher.it“. Encipher.it allows you to bookmark code on your browser to encrypt email, as well as block text that you enter online. Once Enciper.it has been installed, it will ask you to enter an encryption key.
In addition, Google offers security tips for Gmail which can be found under “Gmail Help: Security & Privacy”, or even simpler, just click here. Finally, since Microsoft Windows is still the most widely used operating system, you should know how to enable the device encryption option for your Microsoft operating system which you can learn more about here.
You should become something of a “Cyber Kung Fu Master” when it comes to the security of your data.
Have you received an annoying call from “Windows Technical Support”?
Perhaps one of the more recent cyber frauds is the “Windows Tech Support” scam. These shameless fraudsters place phones calls around the clock claiming to be from “Windows Technical Support”, stating “there is a virus on your computer…”, which only they can help you remove but only after you allow them to access your computer remotely.
The long and short of this type of scam is that once you have given these cyber thieves remote access to your computer, they will either steal your data, encrypt your files which will prevent you from opening and accessing your own data, including installing some sort of vicious malware on your computer.
In order to recover your computer, they will hold your PC hostage and demand payment from you which could cost anywhere from $300 to more than $1,000. This is also known as a “ransomware scam.” If you have fallen for this scam, it is best to contact a reputable company such as SUPPORT.COM to have them remove the ransomware from your computer, laptop or mobile device.
Although it may not do much good (unless you are able to confirm the exact whereabouts of these cyber criminals) you should also contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation Internet Crime Complaint Center and file a formal complaint.
Therefore, DO NOT give your credit card or bank account information to fraudulent companies like “Windows Technical Support”, because you most likely find multiple charges on your credit card account. Remember, taking the time to invest in a good cyber security system is the first step in this series: “ 5 Ways that Retirees Should Protect Their Money During Retirement.”