Security 101

  • Be smartphone savvy. Smartphones can track your location and reveal information about you, including your contacts. Be careful to only download and use reputable apps and be sure to password (or fingerprint) protect your phone. Know how to use tools to find or erase personal data from lost phones. You’ll find more at ConnectSafely.org/cellphone-safety-tips.
  • Secure your Internet router. There is likely a small device in your home, called a router or broadband modem, that connects you to the Internet. That device has a password and username and sometimes the default passwords are very easy to guess. Routers can be hard to configure so if you’re in doubt, contact an expert or your Internet service provider for advice on how to change the password.
  • Protect your devices by ensuring they are password protected and, in the case of computers, make sure you have good security and firewall software in place. If you need help, reach out to knowledgeable friends or family, or your Internet service provider or mobile operator. BT, Virgin, Sky, PlusNet and most other Internet service providers offer free anti-virus software, or you can purchase or obtain free security software from a reputable company such as the ones listed at ConnectSafely.org/securityvendors.
  • Reach out for help. There are many great places to get help with computers, smartphones and other technology. Many senior centers, some schools, and some religious or community groups offer free or low-cost classes. There may be family members who can help, but don’t overlook others in your community such as tech-savvy high school students (call a local school and see if a student can be assigned to help you in exchange for community service hours). Both Apple and Microsoft have stores that offer free advice on products they support and you might also be able to get help from staff at other local computer or electronics stores. Always feel free to contact your cell phone carrier if you have any questions about your phone or service, including whether you’re on the most economical plan for your needs.
  • Avoid pressure to buy what you may not need and review your service plans. Even legitimate services and merchants may sometimes try to talk you into buying equipment or services you may not need. It’s not necessarily a scam, but could be that they simply don’t understand your needs. When buying a cell phone or Internet plan, think about whether you need all the data they want to sell you, or whether you need that extra speed for an extra price. Once you’ve established service, review it periodically to see if you’re using most of the data or other services you’re paying for. You may be able to save money by downgrading your service.
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