As we age, sensitive passwords, especially for financial websites which gather data, may be easily forgotten or can be cracked.
I met Paul Gill a few months ago. He is living with dementia and is part of our research project group with which I’m involved at Warwick University called the Language Sensing Study: Dementia Diagnosis and Monitoring. More of this another day.
He is well-qualified to comment on computer security matters – for 15 years, Paul worked on software for military radar systems and had MOD security training, albeit 25 years ago.
He tells me that the main password risk is from computer hacking inside a bank’s computers or downloaded malware. However, MOD advised that any password/passphrase should not be guessable by a human. Banks will not pay up if they can avoid it by (plausibly) blaming a family member, however innocent they may be. A passphrase such as “long live our gracious ...” would be unsafe, as any person could guess the next word is “queen”.
He adds, “whilst for very obvious reasons I never breach bank terms by discussing the exact password/passphrase I use, old car registrations and co-op numbers are good candidates for remaining in long term memory!”
“The MOD told us to never ever to assume that a person ringing us was who they said they were. Always ring them back using a number you know is correct having ended the call and heard the dialling tone."
He uses Kaspersky anti-virus – “(though I'd rather it was a UK firm!)” He advises, "ignore unsolicited offers of free drive upgrades or software unless it’s on on the manufacturer’s website. Older printers and scanners for Windows 10 are hopefully available from the manufacturer."
He uses CCleaner (reputable free software https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CCleaner ) to clean his cache both before and after an online visit to the bank and right-clicks to use the “in Private” settings and he does not take up their offers.
Paul doesn’t use a mobile device for banking – his PC is “firmly attached by cable, which to all intents and purposes doesn’t radiate and can’t be intercepted, although the bank does have my mobile number for emergencies.”
If you receive alarming reports of a new improved scam, Paul advises looking up the exact words on the internet and that http://www.hoaxbusters.org/ usually lists the ones that do the rounds every few years!
He says, “Although we have the fastest internet we can get, it’s still slow and runs at the speed of the slowest component but I got what I think was a 20% speed increase by using faster cables:
(And he doesn’t have shares in Amazon.)
You can check internet speed via a number of websites. “I can’t remember whether this is the one I used but it’s probably sponsored by someone selling ISP, so firms that come up 2nd to the sponsor are probably best! http://www.broadbandspeedchecker.co.uk/
Internet Service Provider
Virgin as Paul’s ISP of choice. “It’s expensive, but customer service is good and when I had to help someone in his late 80s who’d made a dreadful hash of downloading Windows10, they accessed the computer remotely to fix it.
Finally, The Guardian has a useful article here: