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Online digital safety: Tips and training for senior citizens

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Courtesy of Jared Warner

As technology continues to evolve, it becomes increasingly important for senior citizens to stay informed about online safety. In Highland County, many older adults are using digital tools to connect with loved ones, access services, and stay informed. However, with these digital opportunities come new potential risks.

Highland County Community Action Agency and the Highland County Commissioners are sponsoring an upcoming series of in-person training on this important subject.  

The following article contains some of the training highlights.  

1. Phishing Scams and Tricks

Phishing is one of the oldest and most common online scams. Scammers use deceptive emails, text messages, and phone calls to steal personal information. Here’s how seniors can protect themselves:

Spotting Phishing Emails:

Be cautious of unexpected emails asking for sensitive information.

Look out for urgent requests, misspelled words, or suspicious links.

Verify the sender’s identity before clicking on any links.

Be suspicious of any messages that try to use a sense of urgency, authority, scarcity, or other methods of manipulation in an attempt to get you to share information.

Safe Browsing:

Navigate to trusted websites by typing the web address directly into the browser address bar—instead of clicking on a link. Links in emails and text messages can be programmed to download dangerous files or take people to unexpected locations.  

2. Privacy Settings on Social Media Platforms

Seniors are increasingly using social media to connect with family and friends. Social media can be a great resource for connecting friends and family and increasing a person’s sense of social connectedness.  However, the proper privacy settings are crucial to protect personal information:

Adjust Privacy Settings:

Limit who can view your profile, posts, and personal details.  Many social media providers automatically set online profiles to be fully public, meaning that anyone on the system can see your profile and send you instant messages.

Be cautious about sharing personal information publicly on social media sites.

Adjust your security settings to limit your visibility on the system.

3. Strong Passwords and Two-Factor Authentication
Strong passwords are an important part of online security. Every year, major security breaches occur in business, government, and other organizations because basic password security rules are not followed.  

In addition to strong passwords, two-factor authentication (2FA) is an important aspect of account security. 2FA is a process where, in addition to entering a password into a system in order to access it, an additional step using text, phone call, or app notification is used to verify a person’s identity before allowing a log in to move forward.  

Create Strong Passwords:

Use a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.

Avoid using easily guessable information like birthdays or names.

Consider using a password manager to securely store and manage passwords.  This is a specially designed application that helps to maintain strong and safe passwords.

Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA):

2FA adds an extra layer of security by requiring a second verification step (such as a text message or app notification) when logging in.

Enable 2FA wherever possible to protect your accounts.

When your smart phone or other device gets a request for a 2FA approval, only approve that log in if you are sure that the person signing in to the system is correct.

4. Stay Informed and Educated

Attend Online Safety Training

Highland County Community Action Organization and the Highland County Commissioners are offering free digital literacy sessions for seniors.

Topics include computer basics, internet safety, social media, and more.

In person classes are being offered at the following dates and times:
May 20, 10:30 a.m., Greenfield Senior Nutrition
June 3, 11 a.m., Hillsboro Senior Center
June 3, 3 p.m., Greenfield Library
June 17, 5 p.m., Hillsboro Library

Stay Updated:

Regularly read about online security and new threats.

Be aware of common scams targeting seniors, such as tech support scams and friend or family imposter scams.

Seniors, Stay Safe Online!

Highland County seniors deserve to enjoy the benefits of the digital world without compromising their safety and privacy. By following these guidelines, Highland County’s older adults can navigate the online landscape with confidence. For more information and hands-on training, seniors are encouraged to attend an upcoming training to learn more.  

Hands On Tech Support!

Need a new email account? Can’t get your Facebook account privacy settings figured out? Trouble sending photos to your kids? Bring your device and our experts will do their best to help you fix your tech problems, for free!

Free computer / smartphone technical support will be available after each Online Safety training. 

This article is brought to you by the Highland County Community Action Organization and the Highland County Commissioners. 

••• Publisher's note: A free press is critical to having well-informed voters and citizens. While some news organizations opt for paid websites or costly paywalls, The Highland County Press has maintained a free newspaper and website for the last 25 years for our community. If you would like to contribute to this service, it would be greatly appreciated. Donations may be made to: The Highland County Press, P.O. Box 849, Hillsboro, Ohio 45133. Please include "for website" on the memo line.

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