A recent study raises concerns about the safety of the over-55-year-old bracket online. The report entitled “Older and wiser? A look at the threats faced by over-55s online” demonstrates that said age group can behave carelessly online and thus often become fraud victims.
The research by Kaspersky Lab and B2B International questioned 12,546 internet users across the world, and suggests that the older generation is actually an attractive target for cybercriminals when they shop, bank and communicate with loved ones online.
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 change their behavior online to stay safe. For example, they use high privacy settings on social media, and in their browser, less than other age groups at 30 percent vs. 38 percent.
This older generation is also unlikely to use the security functions that come with their devices (such as ‘find my device’) or VPN – 28 percent and 10 percent, respectively, compared to 42 percent and 16 percent, respectively, of users across all ages. When sharing information, only 35 percent double-check messages before sending and only 16 percent avoid sharing information when tired (versus 44 percent and 31 percent among the youngest respondents).
They are using the internet to communicate with others – 94 percent 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 percent of over-55s shopping and banking online (compared to an average 84 percent of users across all age groups).
Yet despite all of this, only almost half of over-55s (49 percent) worry about their vulnerability when purchasing products online, and the vast majority (86 percent) do not believe they are a target for cybercriminals.
Worryingly, four in ten (40 percent) have put themselves at risk by sharing financial details in the public domain (compared with 15 percent across all age groups).
According to the report, 20 percent of Internet users overall have older relatives that have encountered malicious software, and 14 percent have older relatives that have fallen for fake prize draws online.
In addition, 13 percent have older relatives that have shared too much personal information about themselves online and 12 percent have older relatives that have become the victim of an online scam, have seen inappropriate or explicit content, or communicated with dangerous strangers online.
“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 shows clearly that this generation is embracing a connected life, and all of the opportunities that come with it,” said Andrei Mochola, head of consumer business at Kaspersky Lab.
“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,” he pointed out.
“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,” Mochola said.
He added, “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.”