Cybersecurity for the Elderly – Undergraduate Research Blog Post 1

 

As technological advances continue to be made and new generations continue to utilize new phones, tablets and games, it has become apparent that a generation has been left behind. In a rush to accommodate younger children with advanced technology, companies have left behind the elderly, a generation which has had trouble associating with even the most basic forms of technology. Above all issues, cyber security has become the most prevalent computer science topic in the modern day; with hacking tools and knowledge now widely available on the internet, there is now a greater chance than ever that one’s information can be stolen, even if one is not fooled into “handing” this information over.

Password complexity has become a topic at the forefront of cyber security; the complexity of a password will make it much harder for a hacker to essentially break in to someone’s account. Brute forcing algorithms used to crack accounts can easily find a simple password (primarily for offline accounts), but may have a much longer and harder time finding a complex password (for example, the strength of passwords Troubleshoot and Tr0uBle$H00t successively increase in complexity). Preventing hacking has also been aided by the creation of anti-virus software, which constantly scans your computer for Trojan horses, spyware, key loggers, and other malicious software that may be resting on your machine, simply waiting for you to type in a password so it can be sent over to a hacker.

Although not much can be done to prevent social engineering (psychological manipulation of people into performing actions or divulging confidential information) of companies from the user-end, the most we can do is encourage people to make much more complex passwords; this is prevention, not ending hacking completely, which would be unattainable goal. However, with age-related memory loss problems, the elderly may have a much harder time remembering complex passwords, forcing them to use simple passwords, which may be easily susceptible to an attack.

Our research project is titled Cybersecurity for the Elderly. The elderly are trying to keep up with this new modern era of technology without understanding some of the basic architectural designs of it. The most vital aspect of technology is security; it would be senseless not to secure yourself and your data. However, many of the elderly struggle with securing their devices. Some ways they do this is by having extremely simple passwords, or even no password at all for their devices and online accounts. Understandably it can be difficult for the elderly to try and remember all of their passwords for multiple accounts. This research project is to investigate whether or not biometric security would be more beneficial to the elderly than regular pin/word passwords. This project entails utilizing different equipment such as fingerprint scanners, retinal scanners, face recognition, and software that utilizes one password to store other passwords, while experimenting with the elderly to discover which option would be optimal for them and their security.

[1]C. Hoffman, “Brute-Force Attacks Explained: How All Encryption is Vulnerable”, Howtogeek.com, 2016. [Online]. Available: http://www.howtogeek.com/166832/brute-force-attacks-explained-how-all-encryption-is-vulnerable/. [Accessed: 17- Oct- 2016].

[2]”What is biometric authentication? – Definition from WhatIs.com”, SearchSecurity, 2016. [Online]. Available: http://searchsecurity.techtarget.com/definition/biometric-authentication. [Accessed: 17- Oct- 2016].

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