Oh no, Grandpa Locked Himself Out of his Email AGAIN!

Our first scenario is a classic one, at least in my home. You have elderly family members trying to use technology. Some people, like your Great Aunt Tanya, can use her phone and the internet with ease. Others, like Grandpa Ed, can barely turn on his television, let alone operate a computer or smartphone. Assisting people with technology, especially the older population, can come with an interesting set of challenges. These people somehow understand technology and like it, but struggle to utilize it properly at the same time.

This scenario involves a pair of grandparents who have an iPad, used strictly for facetiming their kids/grandkids that live across the country and for email. They have come to you asking why their Google accounts and Apple/iCloud accounts keep asking them for a password or security code of some type. They don’t feel they are necessary.

Lets look at the D.U.C. Model again: Discuss, Understand, Customize.

D for Discuss: Once these grandparents say they do not think passwords are needed, security brain sets on fire. What do you mean you don’t need a password?! Every account in the world requires a password, even the iPad you use requires a security code or fingerprint ID to unlock. This can prevent any unwanted users from accessing their data and their hardware too.

U for Understand
: Turns out, they aren’t thinking this way. When you state that a password is used to protect their information, they tell you they have a home security system. Unless someone breaks in and physically STEALS the iPad, they have nothing to worry about. Maybe you were thinking of physical threats to their system, but also data breaches and brute force attacks.

C for Customize: Now that you know WHY they think their information is safe, you need to teach them that it is not as safe as they think and implement a solution. Explain to them that sometimes malicious actors can steal data without actually stealing the machine the data is on. Also explain to them that simple passwords can be compromised in things called Dictionary Attacks.

The Final Solution: After teaching them why needing passwords and passcodes are important: have them put all of their complicated passwords in a book (or if they are tech-savvy enough, a password manager).

Sometimes the BEST solution is not the most technologically advanced. As long as now your grandparents can keep their data relatively safe, even if it means it’s written down in a book hidden somewhere in the living room, it is much better than where their security posture was before.