Sunday, November 19, 2017
News Roundup

Educate yourself on computer safety to avoid being cyber scammed

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My name is Eve Parker, 28 years old single lady, a Canadian citizen,

I wish to inquire of your services to be my foreign partner / investor ...

• • •

My good friend

I am happy that the Inheritance Fund I contact you last time has been transferred to another partner account in Paraguay

• • •

Congratulations, Congratulations

Open The Attached file And View Your Winning details

• • •

It's my pleasure to write you today, I am Mr. Phillips Odouza I work in a bank. I get your contact from internet search

This is just a sample of the scams and spams that fill a typical email in-box each month. These are what cyber experts call "phishing" — emails designed to get a computer user's information, cooperation or, even worse, money.

An estimated 97 percent of seniors use the internet at least once a week, according to a recent nationwide survey. And 67 percent of seniors 65 and older have been targeted by at least one online scam or hack, according to the survey, which was conducted by the National Cyber Security Alliance, a nonprofit that works with industry and government agencies to make computer use more safe.

In addition, 28 percent of the people surveyed reported that they had mistakenly downloaded a computer virus.

"Historically, seniors have been a major target of scammers," said Michael Kaiser, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based organization. "Elder fraud has been ongoing long before the advent of the internet."

The threat can take a number of forms. It may pretend to be an email from a relative or friend. Or a message that says, "Hey, did you send me this?" Or a message about a credit card or bank account.

The most recent threat to security is a link in the email, or an attached file, that hides a virus that allows the scammer to seize your files then tell you to pay up if you want access again.

It's aptly called ransomware.

"Always be cautious," Kaiser said. "Don't act quickly." If in doubt, make a phone call to check and verify.

A strong password is the first stage in a strong defense against computer problems, Kaiser said. "The most important thing is length."

Kaiser's organization recommends a "passphrase," a password that is an easy-to-remember phrase. It can be a sentence that is easy to remember or a line from a song. He offers such examples as "Sunny days make me happy" or "Sunny days are here again" or even just "Sunny days R."

But he also recommends people write down their passphrase, no matter how easy it is to remember, and store it where they can find it again. "The key is length and memorability."

An awareness campaign has been launched to educate seniors about the potential dangers that lurk online. The campaign is a collaboration between the National Cyber Security Alliance and Home Instead Senior Care, a franchise organization that provides in-home caregivers nationwide.

More than half of people 65 and older are active on social media, said Colin Castle, executive director of marketing for Home Instead Senior Care for Pinellas County.

Forty-one percent use the internet for online banking, and 26 percent use it for paying bills, he said. "Those statistics are why seniors are at a very high risk."

Castle said Home Instead has been training its caregivers to be more observant about the technology used by its clients.

Home Instead has created the website protectseniorsonline.com, which offers a 10-question quiz about risks online and more, to aid seniors in becoming more cyber savvy and to think before they click. Another website, stopthinkconnect.org, which was developed by the Anti-Phishing Working Group and the National Cyber Security Alliance, offers online safety resources and tips.

We've heard the admonition before. If something sounds too good to be true, especially an offer on the internet, "99 percent of the time it is," Castle said.

Contact Fred W. Wright Jr. at [email protected]

 
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