Rights & Money

Cyberattacks: What You Can Do to Protect Yourself

More than half of seniors believe they will be targeted by cyber criminals. And they’re right.

ADVERTORIAL – Imagine that your son or your grandson calls you one evening. He’s gotten into some trouble, and he needs money, fast. It sounds like an emergency. So, what do you do? Do you help him? Maybe. But first, you should check a few things, because this might be a classic case of the “grandparent scam.”

The grandparent scam is the most common form of cyber scam targeting seniors. It used to be easy to catch. Fraudsters would send messages, but when you called the number back, they sounded nothing like your grandson. But Artificial Intelligence (AI) is making it harder to recognize it as a scam.

“Generative AI can create a very good likeness of your face and your voice,” says Adam Evans, chief information security officer for RBC.

And it doesn’t stop there. There are now countless ways that fraudsters can target someone, whether they’re posing as a legitimate business and asking for your credit card number, sending emails containing malware, or pretending to be your grandchild.

No wonder the latest cyber security poll by RBC shows an increase in the number of seniors who say they believe they’ll be targeted within the next year: 57%, nine points more than last year. At the same time, seniors are less likely than before to say they feel knowledgeable about cyber security.

“With increased connectivity and new technologies, the barriers of entry into cyber crime are being removed,” says Evans, who points out that attacks have been increasing by around 20% every year. “The rate of change is accelerating, and the types of threats are changing.”

Better information, better tools

So, what can you do to protect yourself? There’s a lot of information out there, including on the RBC website. Here are a few tips to help you keep your money in your own hands:

– Don’t respond to urgency. Hang up and call the person back.

– Don’t answer messages that ask for unusual currencies or ask to send money to odd places.

– Don’t click on links, even if the link looks like it belongs to a legitimate business. Go straight to the company’s website and look for the information there.

And what is the number one best practice, according to Evans? “Strong passwords and multifactor authentication. If you don’t know how to set it up, ask a family member to help.”

Your phone is safer than your computer

Senior citizens are less likely than other Canadians to trust mobile banking, according to the RBC poll. However, Evans points out that your phone is a much safer place to manage your money than a website accessed via your computer.

“You can use biometrics such as face ID and fingerprints to make sure that you are the only one who can access your accounts. It makes all interactions more secure.”

“Skepticism about new technology is good,” he adds. “But banking is heavily regulated, with clear rules. An app by a trusted bank is a very safe tool to manage your money.”

For more information about cyber fraud and how to protect yourself, visit the RBC website.


The content in this publication is for general information only. It is not intended to provide any legal, cyber security, or other professional advice and readers should not rely upon the information as a complete analysis of the subject matter discussed. RBC and Royal Bank are registered trademarks of Royal Bank of Canada, used under licence. © Royal Bank of Canada 2024. All rights reserved.