Dear Mum, let's talk about cybersecurity

Business Insights

Online safety tips for parents — it isn’t as hard as you might think

No one is safe from cybercrime, no matter how much or how little they use technology. The older members of your family often become the targets of cybercriminals, given their lack of cybersecurity knowledge. 

“As a consequence of the pandemic, more seniors started spending time online and became extremely vulnerable targets for cybercriminals. Not being cyber-literate, they are prone to clicking on unsafe links or downloading malicious attachments. In the UK alone, elderly people lost £4M to cybercrime in the previous financial year,”

comments Daniel Markuson, a digital privacy expert at NordVPN.

Daniel let his mum ask anything she wanted to know about the digital world and gave her tips on online safety.

“Staying safe online isn’t as hard as you might first think,”

she said afterwards.

Reviewing these Q&As with your parents might help them to stay safe online.

Mum: I love using Facebook to get connected with my grandchildren and sharing news with my circle of friends. Is there anything I should worry about?

Daniel: First of all, you should avoid putting your email, phone number, home address, vacation plans, or any other sensitive data on social networks like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter — identity thieves can wreak havoc with that kind of information. Additionally, you should limit those who can see your posts and avoid participating in quizzes that require access to personal information — cybercriminals can use such data for cracking your login security questions. You can control such things in your privacy settings.

Mum: There are some good online deals in social network feeds. Is that dangerous as well?

Daniel: There is one important rule: if it sounds too good to be true, it most definitely is. Some websites will send fake items instead of what was advertised, and some will simply take your money and run. In either case, scammers now have their hands on the victim’s credit card details. You can recognize fake websites by their poor design, broken English, suspicious domain names (e.g. famous brand names with extra words like ‘deal’ or ‘sale’ thrown in, such as “”), shady contact information, unclear returns policies, poor customer reviews, and so on.

Mum: I keep forgetting my passwords, so I often use a few of the same ones. Is there a way to store them safely and easily?

Daniel: You are not alone. A recent NordPass survey revealed that as many as 57% of seniors in the UK and the US write passwords down on a piece of paper, and the same percentage try to memorize them. Using weak passwords is an immense threat. When creating a new account, set a strong, complex, and unique password. You can also use a password manager, instead of writing passwords down in notebooks or text files. Don’t forget to use different passwords for each
account, changing them every once in a while, to avert possible data breaches.

Mum: Everything's digitalized now, and various institutions ask for photocopies of my documents when I fill in forms online, so I store my documents on my computer to keep important information always at hand. Is it safe?

Daniel: Documents can give away a lot of personally identifiable information, which is why they should never be stored unprotected on your computer or in the cloud. Start to employ user-friendly file encryption tools,to effectively protect all your valuable information from prying eyes.

Mum: Daniel, I have also recently received a message telling I have won an online lottery. Could you help me with a money transfer?

Daniel: Never believe such lottery scams, as they are simply trying to trick you into thinking you’ve won something. Never pay money to anyone who claims you have won something and don’t give your details to someone who contacts you unexpectedly.

Mum: Thank you, Daniel, for those helpful tips. I might not win the lottery or get a bargain online, or even know what type of animal I am on Facebook, but at least I now feel safe online!

“Human error is one of the leading causes behind cybersecurity breaches. If you don’t help your older family members understand the online threats, they may never know they are at risk. I wish all parents to stay digitally safe, secure, and private,”

Daniel Markuson adds.


NordVPN is the world’s most advanced VPN service provider used by over 14 million internet users worldwide. For more information: