Cybersecurity for Caregivers: How to Protect Your Loved Ones' Digital Assets

As a caregiver, understanding cybersecurity measures is vital to safeguard your loved ones' digital assets. By employing appropriate security practices, you can protect against unauthorized access, ensuring the privacy and integrity of these digital resources.

Recommend This Page
Cybersecurity for Caregivers: How to Protect Your Loved Ones' Digital Assets
12 Min Read July 28th, 2023

As a caregiver, your priority is the comprehensive safety of your loved ones. This commitment extends beyond safeguarding their physical health; it also encompasses the secure management of their digital assets and information, ensuring a favorable online presence and protection.

The number of individuals requiring long-term health care, whether at home or within a facility, is escalating rapidly. Driven by an aging population and increasing chronic health conditions, the demand for these services is skyrocketing. 

As life expectancy rises, more people are living into their senior years, many of whom will inevitably require some form of long-term care. Concurrently, medical advancements have also enabled individuals with chronic or debilitating conditions to live longer, necessitating long-term care services. 

A significant number of older adults today possess substantial digital assets and information. From social media profiles and online banking to personal blogs and digital photographs, these assets form an essential part of their digital footprint. 

As individuals age and require care, safeguarding these assets becomes crucial. However, it's not just about protecting financial or sentimental digital content; it's also about maintaining privacy and preventing identity theft. In the era of increasing cyber threats, care must be taken to ensure these assets are protected and accessible. It can be efficiently managed, even in diminished cognitive capacity or caregiver dependency. Proper planning and guidance can assist older adults in preserving and protecting their digital legacy.

There are several ways how you can protect your loved one's digital assets:

  • Installing the latest Anti-Virus software.
  • Having a robust firewall policy enabled.
  • Keeping all software up-to-date.
  • Utilizing password managers.
  • Securing accounts with 2FA.
  • Attaching strong passwords and PINs to devices.
  • Limiting app permissions.
  • Securing home networks.

Cyber safety measures like strong passwords, anti-virus software, and protection against hacks are vital. How can you protect devices, accounts, and information? What can you do if your loved one becomes a victim of a cyber attack? 

Protecting Devices and Accounts

With more accounts, devices, and daily activities happening online, securing your loved one's cybersecurity is crucial. You must know how to protect against online threats like hacking, fraud, and abuse.

One of the first lines of defense is protecting the devices your loved one uses to access the internet. Whether it's a desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone, be sure to take these steps:

Install Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware Software 

Run regular scans to detect viruses, malware, and other threats. Top choices include Norton, McAfee, and Avast.

Enable Firewalls and Firewall Policies

Firewalls act as a robust line of defense in cybersecurity, offering critical protection for personal data. They serve as a virtual barrier between your o your loved one's computer or network and the wider internet, helping to block unauthorized access while permitting outward communication. 

Firewalls scrutinize incoming and outgoing data packets based on preset rules, thus blocking malicious traffic, such as hackers or viruses, that attempt to infiltrate your system. In an era where personal data breaches are increasingly common, employing a reliable firewall is a crucial measure for safeguarding sensitive personal information.

Built-in firewalls come with Windows and Mac computers.

A cellphone with a screen on it and a plant and earphones.

Keep Software Updated

Maintaining up-to-date software is an integral part of any cybersecurity strategy. Operating systems and various software applications regularly release updates, often including essential security patches designed to fix vulnerabilities that hackers could exploit. Neglecting these updates can leave systems open to threats and compromise your personal data's security. Older adults may have ignored some of these updates, so paying attention to them now is vital.

Regularly updating an operating system is crucial for maintaining a secure digital environment. Whether you use Windows, macOS, or another operating system, updates bring new features and improvements and include security enhancements that protect against the latest identified threats. As hackers continually develop new methods to breach systems, operating system providers respond by releasing updates to counteract these threats.

Similarly, internet browsers should be kept updated as well. Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and other browsers often release updates to patch security vulnerabilities and improve overall performance. These updates, like those for your operating system, should be installed as soon as they become available.

In some instances, software and operating systems are set to update automatically, minimizing user effort and ensuring you benefit from the most current security measures. However, in cases where automatic updates are not the default setting, it's important to regularly check for updates manually. Having the most recent updates installed is a practical step in protecting your loved one's digital assets from cyber threats.

Use Password Managers 

Password managers have become a critical tool in maintaining the security of digital assets, particularly for older adults. These software applications provide a safe and convenient solution to remembering a multitude of passwords. Storing passwords in one secure place eliminates the need to remember each one, making it possible to use unique and complex passwords for every account. This boosts security by reducing the risk of using weak or repeated passwords, which are easily exploitable by hackers. 

Older adults may find password managers particularly beneficial as they simplify the process of managing online accounts. A caregiver or family member managing this for older adults will also find a password manager easy to use. 

These tools also come with an auto-fill feature that automatically enters your password when you log into a site, adding an extra layer of convenience. With encrypted storage and robust security measures, password managers provide a reliable way to safeguard the digital assets of older adults.

The top options are LastPass, 1Password, and Dashlane.

 Implement Multi-Factor Authentication 

Multi-factor authentication, often abbreviated as MFA, serves as a powerful tool in bolstering the security of digital assets. It adds an extra layer of protection by requiring users to provide two or more verification factors to access an online account. These factors typically include something you know (such as a password), something you have (like a smartphone to receive a verification code), or something you are (like a fingerprint or facial recognition). 

This approach can greatly reduce the risk of unauthorized access to digital assets for older adults. Even if a password is compromised, the attacker still needs the additional authentication factor, making it significantly harder to breach the account. 

Control Access 

Securing mobile devices is another essential step towards safeguarding digital assets, especially for older adults who may not be as tech-savvy or unable due to age and disability. Implementing screen lock passwords, PINs, or fingerprint access on smartphones and tablets adds an additional security layer that can prevent unauthorized access. This is especially crucial should the device be lost or stolen.

Unlike a desktop computer that often resides in a secure home environment, mobile devices are portable and used in various locations - from coffee shops to public transportation, increasing the chances of misplacement or theft. If a device is not secured with some form of password or biometric protection, anyone who comes into possession of the device can easily access the owner's personal data, from email accounts to banking apps, with potentially devastating consequences.

Ensuring that each device has a robust, unique password or PIN, or using biometric security features like fingerprint scanning or facial recognition can significantly reduce the risk of compromised personal information. 

Limit Permissions of Apps 

Controlling the permissions granted to apps is a crucial aspect of securing digital assets. Often, apps request access to personal data or features on a device, such as contacts, calendars, cameras, and location services. While some of these permissions may be necessary for the app to function correctly, others may not be essential and could potentially lead to the misuse of your personal information.

Consider an app that requests access to your contacts but doesn't need this information for any of its core functions. Granting this permission could allow the app to collect and possibly share or sell this data without your knowledge. This could breach privacy and potentially expose contacts to unwanted marketing or, worse, fraud.

For older adults, understanding these permission requests can be challenging due to the technical nature of the language used. As caregivers, it's important to guide them through this process, explaining the risks associated with each permission and advising them to limit access to their personal data whenever possible.

By reviewing and modifying the app permissions on the devices of your elderly loved ones, you can ensure they only grant necessary access, reducing the risk of their personal information being misused. This simple action can play a significant role in enhancing their overall cybersecurity and protecting their digital assets.

Secure Wi-Fi Networks

Ensuring the security of home Wi-Fi networks is a vital step in protecting the digital assets of older adults. By default, many Wi-Fi routers may not be set up with the optimal security settings. Therefore, it's critical to make certain that these networks utilize at least WPA3 encryption, the latest and most secure form of Wi-Fi protection available.

Strong passwords that combine letters, numbers, and special characters are also essential for safeguarding home networks. This password should be unique and not easily guessed, avoiding common choices like 'password123' or 'admin.'

Furthermore, avoid using public networks for sensitive browsing, especially for activities like online banking or accessing personal health information. Public networks, such as those found in cafes or airports, are often unsecured and can be a prime target for cybercriminals.

These steps could seem daunting for older adults who may not be tech-savvy. Therefore, caregivers should assist them in setting up and maintaining a secure home Wi-Fi network. Regularly reviewing and updating these security measures can help protect their digital assets from potential cyber threats.

A padlock on a keyboard.

It's also of utmost importance to lock down online accounts. Use strong, unique passwords containing upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. According to experts, a minimum 12-character password is best for security. Avoid common passwords like "password" or "123456".

Special Care to Personal and Financial Accounts

For accounts containing financial information or other sensitive data, set up extra protections like multi-factor authentication when available. Also, be selective in sharing access to accounts. Don't provide the login details to more people than necessary.

Protect Their Personal Information

Beyond just accounts and devices, you'll want to help protect any personal information they store or share online. This includes:

  • Financial information such as bank account details, credit cards, etc. Don't save this unless it is essential!   
  • Identity information like social security numbers, driver's license details, etc. Avoid sharing this unless required.   
  • Medical and insurance information, including medications, conditions, doctors, Medicare, etc. Be wary of requests for this data.   
  • Photos, especially those showing your home, family, address, license plates, etc. Adjust social media settings accordingly.   
  • Location data is tracked by phones, apps, and services. Limit access and sharing unless necessary.
  • Passwords should never be stored in visible or accessible places, whether written down or saved in unsecured files or programs.

A close up of a circuit board.

Be Wary of Phishing Emails

Phishing emails are fraudulent communications that appear to come from a reputable source, often a bank or a trusted company. Their goal is to lure individuals into providing sensitive data such as personally identifiable information, banking details, or login credentials. These deceptive emails often employ scare tactics or urgent language to trick recipients into immediate action, potentially leading to identity theft or financial loss.

Phishing remains a paramount cybersecurity threat, which family caregivers need to proactively address. These deceptive emails attempt to trick users into revealing sensitive personal or financial details or unknowingly downloading malicious software.

Recognizing a phishing email is crucial in protecting against this threat. Here are some red flags to look out for:

  • Unexpected communication requesting personal or financial details. Legitimate organizations usually won't ask for sensitive information via email.
  • Impersonal greetings. Instead of using your actual name, phishing emails often employ generic salutations like "Dear user."
  • Unusual sender addresses. They often masquerade as authentic companies, so always double-check the sender's email address.
  • Urgent or threatening language. Phishing attempts typically create a sense of urgency, pressuring you into acting quickly without due consideration.
  • Links directing to false login pages. These are designed to capture your login credentials and gain unauthorized access to your accounts.
  • Email attachments carrying malicious software. They're often masked as harmless files to trick you into downloading them.

As caregivers, it's crucial to educate older adults about these signs and ensure they remain cautious while navigating their digital interactions.

Protect Against Phishing

Phishing emails are a common way for scammers to trick you into sharing private information. How can you protect against phishing emails

  • Avoid clicking links and attachments from unknown senders. These are how phishers try to install malware on your device.
  • Check the email address carefully. Phishers often spoof email addresses from legitimate companies to look real.
  • Call the company directly if an email seems suspicious. This is an easy way to verify if the email is legitimate.
  • Enable your email provider's spam filters. Tools like Gmail's spam filters catch phishing attempts before they reach your inbox.
  • Report phishing attempts to your email provider. This helps them improve their spam filters and protects other users.
  • Use anti-phishing browser extensions. Extensions like Netcraft can block many known phishing sites and warn you of risky URLs.

What To Do If You Suspect a Cyber Attack

Even the best security measures aren't foolproof. If you notice suspicious activity like unauthorized account access, fraud, or malware infections, act quickly to minimize any harm. 

  • Reset all passwords. Reset passwords for critical accounts immediately, starting with financial and identity accounts. Changing passwords is one of the most effective ways to lock out hackers.
  • Secure your bank accounts. Next, you'd want to contact your bank immediately if you see unauthorized transactions. They may be able to reverse fraudulent charges and block suspicious activity. Don't forget to place fraud alerts on your credit reports. This makes it harder for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name.
  • Scan for any other malware that may be present. Scan your devices with anti-virus software to detect and remove any malware infections. Many programs offer free virus scans. Watch for signs of ransomware, like locked or encrypted files. If infected, contact an IT professional for help removing the infection.

Be sure to report cyberattacks to authorities like the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center. Their investigations can help catch cybercriminals. And notify any contacts whose information may have been compromised so they can take precautions.

Cybersecurity Checklist for Caregivers

Caring for a loved one's physical and mental health is a big responsibility. Don't overlook their cyber well-being too. Here is a checklist to boost senior cybersecurity:

  • Install anti-virus and firewall software on devices.
  • Create strong, unique passwords for all accounts.
  • Enable multi-factor authentication when possible.
  • Limit sharing of personal information online.
  • Secure home Wi-Fi networks with encryption.
  • Watch out for signs of phishing emails.
  • Set up fraud alerts on credit reports.
  • Monitor accounts for suspicious activity.
  • Have an incident response plan in case of a cyber attack.

Final Words

Staying vigilant about cyber risks will give you greater peace of mind. Securing your financial accounts, health care data, and other sensitive information should be a high priority for any caregiver. Changing default passwords, enabling two-factor authentication, scanning for malware, avoiding phishing attempts, and reporting suspicious activity are crucial in today's digitally connected world.

With dedication and persistence, you can safeguard your loved one's digital life and preserve their dignity, privacy, and independence for as long as possible. Taking proactive steps now will pay huge dividends down the road. Follow the tips in this guide, as it will help keep your loved one safe from today's cyber threats.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is public Wi-Fi safe for sensitive browsing?

A: No - public Wi-Fi networks are inherently insecure. So you should avoid accessing sensitive accounts, transmitting passwords, making purchases, or sharing private information over public Wi-Fi. Even using VPNs on public Wi-Fi poses some risks. For security, only connect to the internet using your cellular data plan or a trusted private network.

Q: Is opening attachments from unknown senders okay?

A: Never open an attachment from an unknown sender, as it could contain malware designed to infiltrate your device. Even attachments from seemingly legitimate contacts should be viewed with skepticism. Opening unknown attachments is one of the primary ways hackers install ransomware and other viruses. When in doubt, just delete the email.

Q: How often should devices be scanned for malware?

A: Anti-virus software should perform regular scans of your devices continuously. At a minimum, full scans should run weekly, though many programs can scan daily. In addition to regular scans, schedule periodic deep scans that inspect hidden areas for malware. Back up your data before deep scans if any infected files need removal.

Q: What are signs my loved one may have clicked a phishing link?

A: A few common signs that your loved one may have fallen for a phishing attempt include receiving unexpected password reset emails, being unexpectedly locked out of accounts, noticing unauthorized transactions on financial accounts, and experiencing other suspicious activity that wasn't deliberately caused.

Recommend This Page

About the Author

Stephanie Moore is a security and privacy professional helping people and organizations stay safe on the internet.

LTC News Contributor Stephanie Moore

Stephanie Moore

Contributor since July 28th, 2023

Editor's Note

We are living in a rapidly changing world where advancements in technology and the internet are reshaping our lives in unprecedented ways. These developments have infiltrated nearly every aspect of our existence, driving efficiencies, conveniences, and possibilities that were previously unfathomable. Technology isn't the only area experiencing significant progression, however. Medical science is also on an accelerating upward trajectory, yielding improvements that are increasing our lifespans more than ever before.

This increase in longevity, while certainly a testament to human progress and innovation, comes with its own set of challenges. As people live longer, the likelihood of needing long-term health care escalates dramatically. Chronic conditions, physical disabilities, and cognitive impairments that can accompany old age often require specialized, long-term care. This need for care isn't just a health issue; it's a financial and emotional concern that can affect entire families.

That's where Long-Term Care Insurance comes into play. This specialized insurance product is designed specifically to cover the costs of long-term services and supports, ranging from in-home care to residential care in a nursing home or assisted living facility. It serves as a financial shield, protecting income and assets from the potentially high costs of long-term care.

Furthermore, Long-Term Care Insurance does more than protect an individual's financial stability. It also significantly eases the stress and anxiety placed on loved ones. Without it, family members often find themselves in the difficult position of being caregivers, juggling their personal and professional responsibilities with the demands of providing care. By providing resources for professional care, Long-Term Care Insurance allows loved ones to support without becoming primary caregivers, helping to preserve relationships and overall family well-being in a world where the need for long-term care is increasingly becoming a reality.

Resources Available to Help in Research and Planning

LTC NEWS provides a wealth of tools and resources designed to help you formulate a comprehensive retirement plan that takes into account the future expenses and implications of aging. The need for long-term health care is a significant concern that can impact both your family and financial stability. Incorporating Long-Term Care Insurance into your retirement strategy is an essential step in safeguarding your future.

Be sure to seek out a professional when shopping for Long-Term Care Insurance. An independent Long-Term Care Insurance specialist will provide you with accurate quotes from all the top companies along with professional recommendations.

Find a qualified independent LTC Insurance specialist - Work With a LTC Insurance Specialist.

Aging Parents Deserve Quality Care

Should your parents show signs of deteriorating health, they are entitled to top-notch care. If they have the foresight to secure a Long-Term Care Insurance policy, consider it a fortunate circumstance. Make it a point not to postpone utilizing the policy's benefits.

LTC NEWS has combined efforts with Amada Senior Care, a leading in-home health care agency with locations throughout the country, to help you process a claim from any LTC Insurance policy.

There is no cost or obligation for this service - Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim.

If they don't have an LTC policy, Amada can still help develop a plan of care and provide you with many affordable in-home care options. Learn more now - Find Quality In-Home Care.

LTC NEWS Can Benefit Your Website and Business

LTC NEWS offers a variety of marketing and advertising options to help you reach your target audience. Our sponsored content articles are a highly effective way to drive traffic to your website, increase brand awareness, and build relationships with potential customers.

Benefits of Sponsored Content on LTC NEWS

  • Drives website traffic: Sponsored content articles are placed on LTC NEWS's homepage and in other high-traffic areas of the website, ensuring that your message is seen by a large audience.
  • Increases brand awareness: Sponsored content articles are written in a way that educates and engages readers, helping to position your brand as a thought leader in your industry.
  • Connects with target audience: LTC NEWS's audience is made up of people who are interested in long-term care, making it a great way to reach potential customers who are already considering your products or services.
  • Improves SEO: Sponsored content articles are written in a way that is optimized for search engines, helping to improve your website's ranking in search results.

In summary, sponsored content on LTC NEWS is a powerful marketing tool that can help you boost website traffic, SEO, brand recognition, and audience engagement.

Learn more about how LTC NEWS can help market your business, drive traffic, and improve SEO - Advertise With Us | LTC News.

LTC NEWS: Share Your News with Us

LTC NEWS is a leading website for news and information about aging, caregiving, health, lifestyle, long-term care, and retirement planning. We are always looking for new stories to share with our readers. 

If your group, organization, business, or political committee has news to share, we encourage you to submit a press release to us.

You can submit your press release - 

LTC News Trusted & Verified

Work With a Trusted Specialist

Get Accurate Long-Term Care Insurance Quotes

  • Has substantial experience in Long-Term Care Insurance
  • Strong understanding of underwriting, policy design, and claims experience
  • Represents all or most of all the leading insurance companies
man and woman sitting at desk
  • Latest

  • Oldest

  • Homecare

  • Health

  • Government

  • Care Facilities

  • Pets

  • People

  • Lifestyle

  • Insurance

No Results

Step 1 of 4

Find a Specialist

Get Started Today

Trusted & Verified Specialists

Work with a trusted Long-Term Care Insurance Specialist Today

  • Has substantial experience in Long-Term Care Insurance
  • A strong understanding of underwriting, policy design, and claims experience
  • Represents all or most of all the leading insurance companies

LTC News Trusted & Verified

Compare Insurers