The world is aging, so are your parents.

The world is moving itself online, so are your parents.

They catch up with your step by going shopping online, filing tax online, and acquiring current news online – what were previously done in papers and phones are now done in websites and emails.

However, in terms of adept usage of the Internet, our parents can count as green-hand netizens. Loose censorship, as a nature of the Internet, exposes all of us to a dangerous and suspicious online environment.

Here comes the question: Are older adults lagging behind of younger adults in cybersecurity?

Are older adults more susceptible to internet scams?

According to AgingInPlace, there are five major reason contributing to older adults’ susceptibility to internet scams:

1. Isolated

Living alone, most elderly people don’t bother to check their finance. If lacking real-life social relationship, they tend to readily place trust in online relationship and get cheated.

2. Money Situation

With savings of a life and monthly pensions at hand, they will get a little less strict with their money. Yet meanwhile, feeling financially insecure and in need of quick money, they may fall into false investment without knowing that they’ll never get their money back.

3. Trusting

The FBI says that people who grew up in the 1920s, ‘30s, and ‘40s—a.k.a. those frequently targeted for scams—are generally more trusting than other generations, which makes them susceptible to con artists who want to find the most vulnerable personalities.

4. Lowered Cognition/Age

Cognitive brain condition like dementia will make elderly people react to demands with little deliberation, and thus go along with whatever the scammer is saying.

5. Embarrassment

Embarrassment is closely related with a scam-reporting rate that could be elevated. They may feel themselves less competent, or have no idea where to report scams to, which is sadly all the better for scammers.

Since prior knowledge of phishing matters so much in older adults’ suspiciousness, here is the take-home message that you can share with the elderly around you.

1. Don’t open the attachment from unknown senders. It could be a malware email.

Scammers can pretend to be your friends or professionals, sending you email attachments that look like photos or documents while are actually malware. Malware are like Trojan horses that pierce in and conquer your computer for malicious intents.

2. Don’t submit personal information in email. It could be a phishing email.

Don’t believe in the tax-refunding, lottery-winning or price-cutting emails, especially those that ask for your credit card number and PIN for “receiving money”, because if you do, your money will be in the scammers’ pocket.

How can we support older adults with cybersecurity?

Apart from informing the elderly of possible online scams, what else can we do? Hopefully, this blog will give you some insights into protecting older adults around you, especially in light of the approaching Mother’s Day.

You must have prepared a gift or thinking about what to prepare for your mother, but I believe that what’s better than a bouquet of flower or a scarf is your genuine care for her – your concern about her happiness, health, food and security.

As invisible as such care and concern can be, your mother can be as invincible and competent despite aging. That’s the best gift I can ever think of.

You may start with the easiest one: set up a protected online environment for them. Here is a checklist:

  • Bookmark their most used websites and official websites of the product they use, which will level down the possibility for them to bump into phishing websites in the searching result;
  • Encourage them to ask you for help when not sure of information authenticity, provide companion through mobile phone when you are not around.
  • Install anti-phishing and malware-detection tools in their email box, which will flag suspicious phishing emails for your notice. For example, Mr. Post is an easy-to-use and lightweight add-in available for Outlook, web browsers and even mobile phones. Get it for free on Microsoft AppSource.