Do you know what’s inside your computer

By Jeff Shell

Today’s senior uses a variety of devices to access the Internet for news, information, entertainment, and as a means to stay connected with family and friends.

However, many are unaware of fraudulent online scams and malware that may be hiding inside their devices. Without simple and preventative maintenance and security precautions, personal information and financial health could be at risk. According to the National Council on Aging…

Internet fraud is among the top 10 financial scams targeting seniors.   

Malware, or malicious software, is any program or file that is harmful to a computer user that includes computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, spyware and adware. These malicious programs can perform a variety of functions, including stealing, encrypting or deleting sensitive data, altering or hijacking core computing functions, and monitoring user’s computer activity without their permission. What’s worse, many people assume they are safe from online threats simply because their computer is running without any major issues.

10 signs that may indicate a device has been hacked:

Slow running device

Pop-up warnings and/or ads

Device “crashes”

Excessive hard drive activity / lack of hard drive space

Unusually high network activity

Changes to homepage, toolbars, or websites

Programs that start automatically

Security solution disabled

Friends getting strange messages

Nothing at all!

From a security standpoint, seniors may be more vulnerable to online threats that could jeopardize their personal identity, negatively impact their finances, compromise their operating system, and/or damage their electronic devices. Because technology may not be essential to their daily routines, the manner and frequency of use among seniors may naturally prevent occasional users from maintaining or developing the skills and knowledge essential to be up to date with online security recommendations. Also, some older adults may have limited access to people, classes and seminars necessary to provide this expertise and know-how.

In today’s online environment, it is essential that seniors protect themselves by periodically consulting with computer experts to have their computers, tablets, iPads, and mobile devices scanned, diagnosed and treated for malicious software. Of equal importance is using the right type of security software that is most effective and compatible with their operating system as well as keeping the operating system up to date with data back-up to an external device. Many people assume that installing an anti-virus program will keep them safe for years to come, never thinking to update the software database or upgrade to a later version.

Online threats are real and increasing. Maintaining the security of your electronic device with the help of a competent tech professional will improve your online safety and discourage potential threats to your security. 

Know what’s inside your computer, who put it there, how to get rid of it, and how to stay protected!

Jeff Shell is president of Age-Wiser, Inc., a Greensboro company that works exclusively with seniors and senior communities to provide seminars and workshops about personal Internet and device security. For more information, call 336-645-9342 or email them at 


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