The short answer to this question is cybersecurity breeches. First, how do you know if that spam in your inbox is from the “dark web?” This is the last week of National Cybersecurity Month, so you’re just in time to help your older loved ones…or yourselves…shore up your protection from security threats on line. If you or your older loved ones did not shop or do business on line before COVID, you all are probably well on board by now. Here are the three main areas where the risks are the greatest for security breeches according to our own Cybersecurity professional, Bryant Wallace:
- Health and Wellness -It’s no surprise that our older loved ones may have some health care concerns, and with those concerns come questions for which they seek answers. So, pop your/their question into the search bar and click, right? Beware of the sponsors of the site(s). There are some really slick sites that seem to be full of medical information, and pharmaceutical and biotech companies are very happy to share what they know about a medical condition. But they are also selling their product(s). In the industry they call this “pull-through advertising,” because they intend it to be a conversation that a patient will bring to the doctor to secure a prescription. To get more objective information look to the last three letters on the site; the .edu and .gov will have generally objective and non-sales content.
- Banking and Finance – Be certain that your loved one’s computer and home internet are secure. Discourage your loved one from using a public computer or kiosk like one they may find at a public library. And also discourage their sharing of personal information like account numbers, birth dates or their social security numbers. Encourage your loved one to also type in a secure website when accessing sites…no click-through from an email or pasting from a browser search results.
- Shopping – Begin at the beginning of the web site…double check for the ‘s’ in the https. It stands for “secure.” Look for the padlock icon on the site that will assure you and your loved ones that the site is secure. And as with banking and finance, don’t just click on a link or paste an address. Consider the charge limit on your credit card, and you’ll realize how much is at risk when shopping online.
I had mentioned Bryant Wallace at the top of this post, and you can reach him at this address or browse his company’s website here . Back to the dark web and spam…reach out to Bryant for some tips!
Charlotte Bishop is an Aging Life Care Advisor, Geriatric Care Manager and founder of, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago. She also is the co-author of How Do I Know You? A Caregiver’s Lifesaver for Dealing with Dementia.