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Threats await 50 plus unwary social media users

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Soma Tah
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MUMBAI, INDIA: McAfee has released findings from its survey which uncovers the online habits and behaviors of individuals ages 50-75. The study, "Fifty Plus Booms Online" indicates that the 50-plus demographic is spending a great deal of time online these days (an average of five hours a day), instilling confidence in their attitude toward technology.

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Some 88 percent of participants say they consider themselves equally or more tech-savvy compared to others their age. Despite this proclaimed comfort level, 50-plus adults are socially engaging online, exposing themselves to social media reproach and dangerous security risks, including sharing personal information with strangers.

Apart from business transactions, many adults have voluntarily shared personal information with people they have never met in person. Overall, 57 percent have shared information or posted online personal information. This includes 52 percent who have shared their email address, 27 percent who have shared their cell phone number and 26 percent who have shared their home address.

Despite the fact that social networks have a reputation among the younger generation as a hub for drama among friends, the survey found this to be the case even in this age group. Eight in ten use social media networks, 36 percent of which log in daily, opening the doors to the possibilities of social media drama.

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Sixteen percent admitted to experiencing negative situations while logged into their social media accounts. These rifts lead to 19 percent of claims that the incident was severe enough to end a friendship. Other results from those who had negative experiences include inappropriate posts from friends (23 percent) and having a fight with a friend, spouse, or partner (9 percent).

Despite their technological confidence, these adults revealed some concerning and surprising realities regarding online security.

Overall, 57 percent claimed they have shared and/or posted personal information online. Email addresses (52 percent), cell phone numbers (27 percent), and even home addresses (26 percent) have all been shared by these 57 percent (excluding instances where this information was necessary for online purchases).

About 80 percent of smartphone users and 43 percentof tablet users post mobile photos online. Surprisingly, another 24 percent admit to using their devices to send personal or intimate messages in the form of text, email, or photo messages.

Yet, more than 1/3 of them (33 percent of smartphone users and 38 percentof tablet users) admit to having no password protection on their devices to safeguard these risqué conversations from reaching the public. Worse still, while nearly all (93 percent) say their laptops and desktops have updated security software, only 56 percent of smartphone users and 59 percent of tablet users say their devices are protected from viruses and malware.

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