Jesmond Library hosted a cybersecurity event on November 1st to warn residents of “the largest area of crime in the UK currently.”
The library invited Maria Bartley, the cyber protect and prepare officer at Northumbria Police, to teach Jesmond’s older population how not to fall victim to these crimes.
Cybercrime is the use of technology to either enhance the impact of traditional crimes or commit crimes that exploit vulnerabilities in people and systems.
In the last year alone, computer misuse offences increased by 33% in the UK.
Bartley said: “The older generation has been forced into using devices whether they like it or not. We need to make sure that we know how to protect ourselves no matter who we are.”
She added: “It breaks my heart when I deal with victims who are elderly. They don’t understand it and they’re more innocent in what they do.”
The event took place as part of Jesmond Library’s monthly Wellbeing for Life sessions, organised by the Friends of Jesmond Library and Elders Council of Newcastle.
They aim to promote the health and welfare of Jesmond’s older population by achieving the five ways to wellbeing and creating an empowered community.
This month, Jesmond Library told JesmondLocal that they hoped by talking about cybersecurity the older population would feel more confident about using technology.
During her talk, Bartley gave six expert tips on staying cybersecure.
These included updating devices when prompted and creating different, secure passwords for each of your email accounts.
Bartley said: “Majority of the time we can’t catch the people that are doing this. The best thing we can do is to prevent these things from happening in the first place.”
Chris Clarke, a 78-year-old trustee of the Friends of Jesmond Library, explained that he was very proud to be able to provide a space where the community can come to get educated.
He said: “There’s an underlying [aim] to empower older people, so that they’re not just the recipients of information, but they’re given information which will enable them to take more control over their lives.”
Brian Grey, 70, attended the event because he wanted to be better educated on the topic and he expressed a strong distaste for cybercriminals.
He said: “They’re just greedy, they don’t care about anybody. They’re just after money […] and it’s going to get worse.” Despite enjoying the event, Grey did tell JesmondLocal he felt the situation was fluid – and more advice may be needed in the future. “What [Bartley] didn’t go into is AI,” he said.