Sage How-to: Safety and Security on the Web
At Sage Collective, one of our primary goals is to encourage older adults to participate in programming that empowers their purpose and lifestyle, often using leading-edge technology on laptops, tablets and smartphones. Today, we’re exploring the easy steps you can take to make your online experiences safe by protecting your privacy and personal information.
Create and Manage Your Passwords With Care
Passwords are a tricky element in online security. While they are meant to safeguard your sensitive information, they can be dangerous if you don’t put enough thought and responsibility into creating and managing them. When building passwords, try to use at least 12 characters, including letters, numbers and symbols — and avoid any personal information. Then keep your passwords in a protected place; writing them down and keeping the list of passwords in a secure spot is a good idea, instead of housing them on your devices. Make sure to also change/update your passwords regularly, and avoid using the same password for multiple devices or sites. And make sure to lock all of your computer, tablet and smartphone with secure passwords to prevent any unauthorized person from accessing them.
Think Twice Before Making Hasty Decisions
More and more our online experiences are interrupted by suspicious texts, emails and popups, asking for questionable information or inviting a click to an unfamiliar site. It’s imperative to assess these situations when they occur and think twice before making any decision to share your information online or be redirected to an unknown site. If you find yourself questioning the authenticity of a link, email or popup window, always use your intuition and best judgment before responding. And whenever possible, take a moment to research the source and determine if they’re legitimate.
Don’t Be Afraid to Reach Out For Help
If you find yourself with questions about the technology devices you’re using or any programs, apps or websites, don’t be afraid to reach out to friends, family or community members. When you’re on specific websites and run into roadblocks, look for FAQs, online chat boxes, phone numbers or “Need Help?” resources. Or simply go to “Contact Us” forms and send an email with your questions.
Use Social Media Wisely
As entertaining and engaging as it can be, social media can be a misleading environment if used without care or responsibility. If you want a more private digital space, make it a priority to change settings so that only those you follow or are friends with will see your posts. And most important, limit sharing your location in your profiles, personal settings and posts. For example, it might be hard to avoid the temptation to post while on vacation, but letting the public know that you’re away can potentially lead to unwanted events back home.
Although it may seem like extra work to be secure and safe online, the effort and care that you take when active in your digital environments can give you peace of mind and a greater sense of control over your privacy and sensitive personal information.