The World Wide Web and the internet are capable of bringing the world to our fingertips and as busy caregivers, the online caregiving resources can be invaluable in providing support for families who care for aging parents. However, sometimes those internet visitors don’t knock at the front door; they creep in through the back door and through unlocked windows.
Today, our computer world is being jeopardized by a serious virus known as the Heartbleed Bug. This bug attacks the OpenSSL cryptographic software library and our vital data such as credit card information and other account information is vulnerable due to the encryption flaw. Experts are recommending that we monitor the sites that we use to ensure that appropriate security patches have been put in place. Once these patches are in place, passwords should be changed with very strong password combinations.
As integral as the internet has become to our everyday lives, it’s important for us to keep privacy and security top of mind and work to keep our personal data protected and secure. In addition to changing passwords, here’s a few things that can be done to help monitor and protect your personal data.
1. Monitor your credit reports.
Monitoring your credit reports via the three major credit reporting agencies will help you determine if new credit cards or other accounts have been opened with your name or other personal information.
2. Freeze your credit line.
If you don’t intend to apply for a new line of credit such as a home loan mortgage or new car loan in the near future, consider freezing your credit information so that new accounts cannot be opened without your knowledge.
3. Protect your snail mail.
Although it’s not high tech, your daily mail is vulnerable, too. Don’t mail checks or other personal account information from an unsecured post box. And, if you receive bills or other information via mail, consider installing a locking mail box.
4. Change passwords often.
Don’t wait for a major online security breach such as Heartbleed to prompt you to change your passwords. Passwords should be changed every few months.
5. Secure and lock your electronics.
Your personal notebooks, smart phones and other electronic gadgets should be secured and locked via personal password.
6. Do not respond to emails that ask for confidential information.
The Heartbleed Bug is dominating national headlines and many fraudsters may use this scare as an opportunity to reach out via email in order to “confirm and secure” your banking and other financial information. Do not reply to emails that ask for confidential account information, social security data other personal information such as full name, address or phone number.
If you are concerned about your personal account information being breached, you should initiate the telephone call to your institution and ask to speak with the fraud department to discuss your concerns.
The online community is a valuable resource for our family caregivers and their families, we hope that following recommended security precautions and recommendations will keep the internet viable for our elder care community.