The Ultimate Guide to Cybersecurity for Multiple Generations
by Michael Huber, Director of Business Development
Cybersecurity threats don’t discriminate by age, so it’s important to educate yourself and your family about how to stay protected from the bad guys. This ultimate guide to cybersecurity for multiple generations includes some practical advice that you can share with friends and family members. No matter what type of device you use or what generation you are in, there are simple steps you can take to help keep everyone safe online.
Risks All Ages Face
Let’s face it Gen Z, Millennials, Generation X, and Baby Boomers all deal with different security threats. The unique risks they encounter are a function of their own behaviors as well as each generation’s relationship with technology. But before we dive into security tips specific to each generation, it’s important to point out that even today, email phishing attacks remain one of the most successful ways hackers gain access to information. That means no matter what age you are, it’s crucial to arm yourself with strong cybersecurity habits that help you avoid all types of phishing scams—whether it’s from malicious strangers or even trusted contacts. As always, be skeptical about links in emails and texts from senders you don’t recognize.
Be aware of what you post online; if it’s not important enough to be shared, don’t post it at all. This is a golden rule of cybersecurity and should be remembered by every generation. Gen Z’s desire to post, tweet and share content online could lead to members of this demographic negligently sharing confidential information on social media or elsewhere with growing frequency, causing financial, legal, and reputational damage in the process. Don’t forget that companies and cybercriminals are watching you as well. Avoid posting too much personal information on any public platform. At worst, someone could access bank or other account information; at best, spam email accounts will find their way into your inbox after unscrupulous individuals purchase lists of e-mail addresses from other sources.
Millennials have grown up in this world, spending a significant portion of their lives on computers and cellphones. This means they are probably the most tech-savvy, hyper-vigilant about cybersecurity, and proactive with their online security and password hygiene. However, keep in mind there may be different security risks associated with specific equipment; if you notice something odd going on (like suspicious activity), notify your computer technician or company’s IT team right away rather than trying to fix it yourself or ignoring it completely.
Gen Xers were born at a time when personal computers were just coming into play, so they’re very familiar with how everything works in an online environment. As such, Gen Xers are very susceptible to social engineering cybercrimes because they have a built-in level of trust when it comes to interacting with others online. Social engineering cybercriminals will try everything from impersonating trusted friends or family members, sending malware links via email or posting fraudulent posts on their Facebook walls. Understand that not all who you speak with on social media can be trusted, and set privacy settings so that you can monitor all activity, only approving those who need access to your private data and information.
Baby Boomers are more likely than any other generation to still be using dial-up internet and they’re also most likely to be living in the same home as their children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren. They’re also less tech savvy than their younger family members, making them especially vulnerable. Be sure that baby boomers follow these three tips for staying safe online: 1) Keep your computer’s operating system and anti-virus software up to date; 2) Avoid clicking on links from suspicious emails; and 3) Don’t click on pop-ups.
No matter what age group you belong to, whether you’re 16 or 60, Here are some other tips to help protect you:
- Use complicated passwords that include upper-case letters, lower-case letters, symbols and numbers. It makes it much harder for hackers to break into your accounts if they must try several times before getting it right.
- Change up passwords frequently; aim for at least once every three months or so. Using one password across multiple sites can leave you vulnerable if any of those sites get compromised—keep in mind most people use less complex passwords so make sure yours is unique!
- Use two-factor authentication (or two-step verification). This feature requires you to enter a passcode or PIN after entering your login information.
You’ve learned a lot about cybersecurity over the years, but the risks are more prevalent than ever. Share some of the tips from this blog with friends and relatives to help ensure they don’t fall victim to the modern cybercriminal.