Protecting The Elderly From Online Scams And Malware

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If you love your parents or grandparents then it probably breaks your heart to see them get taken advantage of by online scammers. The elderly are often targets for scammers because, typically, they are not usually as tech savvy as younger generations.

This is not to say there aren’t exceptions to every rule. I’m sure there may be some grandmas who are elite black hat hackers, but more likely than not, our aging parents and grandparents aren’t going to have the Internet street-smarts needed to be able to recognize and deal with some of the more sophisticated online scams

So what can we do to protect our elders from all the bad people that are seemingly around every corner of the Internet

1. Educate

If mom and dad don’t know about the different types of scams flying around on the Internet, then how can they possibly hope to be ready for them. Point them to sites like ours and other sites that document and discuss different types of Internet scams.

Warn them about scams such as the phone / internet scam known as the Ammyy Scam and others that use multiple avenues of attacks to try and trick them. Also check out our article on How to Scam-proof Your Brain for some other great tips.

2. Update Their Systems

As preposterous as it sounds, grandma’s computer may still be running an operating system that may no longer be supported such as Windows 95 or possibly XP. These old versions may no longer be supported, meaning that security patches are no longer being produced to fix known vulnerabilities.

Urge them to upgrade their system to something current so that they will have access to the latest security fixes when they are released.

Check their OS patches and turn on the autoupdate feature if possible. Update their antivirus software to make sure it’s subscription to updates is current (if it’s a paid solution).

3. Add a Second Opinion Malware Scanner to Their Computer

For some additional peace of mind in the antimalware department, consider adding a Second Opinion Scanner to their system. Second Opinion Scanners are intended to provide a second line of defense should something slip past the primary antivirus or it becomes disabled or out of date.

Check out our article on Why You Need a Second Opinion Malware Scanner for more details.

4. Add DNS filtering for Malware / Phishing Sites

Another quick fix that can help prevent your parents or grandparents from veering off into the dark corners of the Internet is to point their computer’s DNS settings to use a filtered DNS service that helps screen out phishing and malware sites, so that they are automatically prevented from visiting them

This filtering process and how to set it up is explained in much more detail in our article Using Free Public Filtered DNS to Protect Your Computer from Malware and Phishing.

5. Secure their Wi-Fi Network

Chances are, mom and dad might still be using the dusty old wireless router you bought them 10 years ago. They're probably even using the highly hackable outdated WEP encryption that was considered the standard back then.

You need to check and see if their Router is Too Old to Be Secured. You will likely need to Update its Firmware and enable WPA2 encryption with a strong password and non-default network name.

Making a few simple changes and updates can go a long way to help protect your parents, grandparents, or elderly loved ones from scams and malware. Take an hour or two out of your day and give them a security makeover. They may not appreciate all your efforts but at least you might gain yourself a little peace of mind knowing that they are at least better protected and educated against scammers and other online threats.