Moving around online, zipping through new apps and interfaces, downloading content and uploading photos and videos are second nature to most people. But spare a thought for the elderly or those who have come to computing as something new. Simple things can be confusing and bewildering while understanding the logic of computers, applications, social media and so on, can be like learning a new language. If you have elderly relatives or friends and family members that do struggle here are some simple tips that will help keep them safe online.


Passwords are the key that lock the door and they need to be applied on every online account. A strong password is at least 12 characters long. Strong passwords include a mix of letters, numbers and symbols. A good way to remember them is to use a phrase. For instance ‘every good boy deserves football’ can become ‘EveryGBd1s2rv3saF00tBaL!’ The phrase still stands but it incorporates a mix of letters, numbers and symbols. If this is too difficult to remember, and it certainly can be, consider a password manager which does the job for you.

Two factor authentication

Adding two-factor authentication to accounts provides a second layer of protection and given that most online accounts, whether email, shopping sites and certainly banks, offer it, it’s important to adopt it. With two-factor authentication before you access your account a code or password is sent to your phone which must be entered to authenticate your ID. It’s a robust and simple way of protecting your accounts from hackers.

Security software

The use of good security software, such as the multi award-winning BullGuard Internet Security, is a fundamental step to staying safe online. It keeps you safe from malware, such as ransomware, helps guard against phishing mails, identifies websites that hide malicious code, provides safe browsing and more.

Email red flags to look out for

Phishing emails, and SMS text messages, are favoured tools for cyber crooks. You can typically recognise them because they create a sense of urgency as a problem with your bank account, something to do with taxes, a parcel to be collected, an outstanding invoice or something similar. If in doubt, call the company by phone to establish whether the email/SMS is legitimate or not.

Links in emails

When in doubt, throw it out. Clicking on links in emails is often how scammers get access to personal information. The email message will urge you to click on the link for with a ‘compelling’ reason which will then take you through to a fake webpage where financial details will be requested. These are scams and you need to delete them. Also hackers sometimes gain access to your email addresses and can send these scam mails from what appear to be legitimate people or organisations.

Social media

Social media platforms are a great way of keeping in touch when you’re unable to see people. But you need to be careful about what you share. Don’t put your address or telephone in your public postings and don’t share other personal information that would help identify your location. You can always use the private messaging services that social media platforms provide to exchange personal information with those you know and trust.

Protecting your identity

Identity theft can happen in different ways. One way to protect your identity is to ensure that your system is safe from any external attacks like viruses which is why good security software is important. However, identity data can also be stolen from companies that hold your details and you can’t stop this happening. But you can keep a close eye on all your online accounts to make sure there are no suspicious transactions.

BullGuard Premium Protection (BPP) is also a great benefit in this area. Alongside award-winning antimalware protection it also provides identity protection for your banking and payment card details. If these details are stolen in a hack and put up for sale on a hacker forum, which is typically what happens, you receive an immediate alert from BPP enabling you to take remedial steps.

Don’t forget to log out

Finally, remember to log out of apps, social media and online services when you are finished using them. Leaving them open could make you vulnerable to security and privacy risks.