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IT risk and older users

Concerns about the safety of over-55s online have been raised by an IT security product company in its report titled: ‘Older and wiser? A look at the threats faced by over-55s online’. Kaspersky Lab and B2B International suggest that this age group can behave insecurely online and often become victims of fraud.

The research, which questioned 12,546 internet users across the globe, suggests that the older generation is a very attractive target for cybercriminals. When they are online, many over-55s shop, bank and communicate with loved ones without effectively protecting themselves, and the things that are most important to them, from cybercriminals.

Despite the fact that this age group is more likely to install security software on their computers, they are less likely to protect their mobile devices or amend their behaviour online to stay safe. For example, they use high privacy settings on social media and in their browser less than other age groups (30 per cent vs. 38 per cent). They are also unlikely to use the security functions that come with their devices (such as ‘find my device’) or VPN – 28 per cent and ten per cent respectively compared to 42 per cent and 16 per cent respectively of users across all ages. When sharing information, only 35 per cent double-check messages before sending and only 16 per cent avoid sharing information when tired (versus 44 per cent and 31 per cent among the youngest respondents).

The older generation is using the internet for many aspects of their lives and increasing their vulnerability to cybercriminals as they continue to browse online without taking precautions. They are using the Internet to communicate with others – 94 per cent of over-55s email regularly. They are also going online to complete day-to-day tasks. This age group is more likely than others to conduct financial transactions over the Internet, with 90 per cent of over-55s shopping and banking online (compared to an average 84 per cent of users across all age groups).

Yet despite all of this, only half of over-55s (49 per cent) worry about their vulnerability when purchasing products online, and the vast majority (86 per cent) do not believe they are a target for cybercriminals. Worryingly, four in ten (40 per cent) have put themselves at risk by sharing financial details in the public domain (compared with 15 per cent across all age groups).

Their lack of cyber-savviness is making over-55s less prepared for the dangers of the online world. As a result, this generation is being victimised by cybercriminals. According to the report, 20 per cent of Internet users overall have older relatives that have encountered malicious software, and 14 per cent have older relatives that have fallen for fake prize draws online. In addition, 13 per cent have older relatives that have shared too much personal information about themselves online and 12 per cent have older relatives that have become the victim of an online scam, seen inappropriate/explicit content, or communicated with dangerous strangers online.

Andrei Mochola, Head of Consumer Business at Kaspersky Lab, says: “On the one hand, it’s great to see that so many over-55s are using the Internet to shop, bank and stay connected with loved ones. The report clearly shows that this generation is embracing a connected life and all of the opportunities that come with it. On the other hand, however, it’s clear that the over-55s are not doing enough to protect themselves properly. Worryingly, they don’t even believe they are a target for cybercriminals, but they are putting themselves in danger time and again.

“At Kaspersky Lab, we are urging older internet users to become more aware of the dangers they face online and to act in a more cyber-savvy manner. We are also encouraging younger Internet users to help their older relatives and friends to better protect themselves from the very real threats posed by cybercriminals. Being vigilant online, as well as installing reliable security solutions and ensuring high privacy settings on all devices used to access the Internet, will ensure a happy and healthy connected life.” You can also check your own level of cyber-savviness:


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