(Wall Street Journal) A few years ago I had to hack a couple of family email accounts after the passwords were lost. It took a few weeks, but I finally guessed the password of one and the answer to the security question of the other, which enabled me to change the password and recover years of vacation photos.
This exercise showed me that when it comes to the security of online accounts, the biggest threats aren’t necessarily viruses and spyware, but poorly chosen passwords, user names and security questions that can make accounts crackable by familiar people—and hackable by bad guys using common software.
Retirees with limited tech-savvy can be especially vulnerable, putting them at risk as they increasingly handle their banking, credit-card and retirement accounts online, check their Social Security benefits, or access their health-care plans. According to the Pew Research Center, people age 70 to 75 had the largest percentage increase in Internet use in recent years. And regardless of their skill level, older users are likely to have more assets.