Does it seem to you like the older adults in your life struggle to protect their Facebook and other social media accounts from being hacked? You would be correct. Seniors are often the victims of Facebook hacks, for reasons ranging from choosing weak passwords to accepting friend requests from scammers.
Older adults are frequent targets for hacking on online platforms other than Facebook, too. Some security experts say this is because seniors are perceived to have greater financial assets, while also lacking the technical skills necessary to protect themselves.
It’s important to raise awareness of this issue, since the number of older adults utilizing social media platforms is climbing. This is especially true of Facebook.
While younger adults are turning away from Facebook, seniors continue to be one of the largest and fastest-growing demographics on the platform. Data from the Pew Research Center shows that 37% of those born before 1945 were on Facebook in 2019, compared to just 21% in 2012. Baby boomers’ usage of Facebook climbed from 43% to 60% in the same time frame.
What are older adults doing that’s putting them at increased risk for an online data breach?
Cyber experts cite a few of the common causes and offer advice on how seniors can stay safe.
1. Follow best practices for Facebook security. Along with sending and receiving emails and online shopping, visiting Facebook is one of the most popular cyber activities for seniors. Unfortunately, scammers recognize that. If you or a senior in your family is on Facebook, make sure to share “Senior Safety & Facebook: Staying Safe Online” with them. The article discusses the false sense of security older adults often feel on Facebook, and steps everyone can take to protect their privacy.
2. Use strong passwords on all internet devices. Many tablets, phones, and laptops give users the option of disabling password protection. While it might be more convenient not to have to enter a password each time you use the device, it also makes it easier for you to become the victim of a security breach. Remember, a strong password should include at least 12 characters and include a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols. Also refrain from using personal information, such as a child’s birth date or pet’s name, in the password.
3. Keep apps updated. Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms frequently notify users that an update is available. Often these updates are to improve the appearance of the platform, but sometimes they are to fix a security bug or glitch. You can protect yourself by staying on top of each update.
4. Install security software. Viruses and malware can sneak into your computer and other devices in a variety of ways. By installing reliable security software on your laptop, you can lower your risk. Also be sure to run the antivirus and antispyware software regularly. Finally, beware of security updates that appear in pop-up ads and emails you receive. Many are actually viruses.
Our final suggestion is to be wary of emails that come from unknown sources or that encourage you to update financial information or records. They may be from a scammer hoping to steal your personal or financial information.