How to Practice Online Safety for Seniors

Community Life
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Posted: May 4, 2022

Written by: Kevin Stromberg, online security expert and former Vice President of Information Technology at Christian Living Communities

The rules on what we need to do to be safer online are rapidly changing. Hackers – and the tactics they use to get access to personal information – are evolving quickly and it’s important to be prepared. When it comes to online safety for seniors, the first line of defense is our passwords. While passwords that are easy to remember, like a birthday or a family member’s name, are convenient, they are no longer considered secure. Until recently, we felt comfortable with 8 characters with upper and lower case and maybe a number or a special character like a question mark, especially if these passwords were changed every 90 days.

Creating More Secure Passwords to Protect Your Information Online

Security experts are now telling us we need to use a different password for every online account we have. The new recommendations also include making passwords at least 14 characters long using all 4 character sets: upper case, lower case, numbers and special characters. Finally, enabling Multi-Factor or 2-Factor Authentication is being offered by financial institutions and businesses to add another layer of security to prove that you are who you say you are. It’s all become so complicated!

Can you imagine keeping unique 14 character passwords for Netflix, Comcast, Walmart, Wells Fargo, etc.?  Right now between my personal accounts, my wife’s and my shared and financial accounts, and my business accounts I have over 225 accounts I’ve created or have added and been keeping track of in the last 5 years. Seriously, over 200! How is that even possible?  When I just counted I was amazed myself.

  • 101 accounts are shared between us, including the Denver Post online edition, financial companies, memberships, shopping, Ancestry, AAA, online tax services, the list goes on and on…
  • 55 are my own personal accounts and includes concert ticket sites, clubs, golfing, online fly fishing sites, etc.

How to Manage Your Passwords

The fact is, it is reasonably easy for us to organize all of these accounts and follow the new rules by using a Password Management application. Think of a Password Manager as a key lock box that takes a key to get other keys; there are free and for fee packages that will sync this information across your different devices, phones, tablets and computers.

Whether you have trouble remembering to change your passwords, aren’t good at creating unique ones, or simply struggle to keep track of all the passwords, Password Managers are excellent resources to help make us safer out there!

What should you look for in a Password Management application?

  • Password generator
  • Password strength reports
  • 2-factor authentication
  • Auto-fill web forms
  • Password management for apps
  • Password management for off-line passwords (such as ATM passwords)
  • Automated password change features
  • Password synching across multiple devices

More online services require unique logins to access them. Meanwhile, hackers continue to become more sophisticated in their efforts. It’s more crucial than ever to protect our information online, but it doesn’t have to be complex or intimidating! With some research on Password Management applications, you can make an informed decision on the best resource for you to use to manage your online accounts and security.

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