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2019 Privacy and Security in the Internet Age

Privacy and Security in the Internet Age

Written by Shanie Levin
Photography by Elizabeth Azeroual

Jewish Seniors Alliance (JSA) and the Council of Seniors Citizens Organizations of B.C. (COSCO) sponsored JSA’s annual Fall Symposium on Sunday November 3rd at the Peretz Centre. The theme was “Privacy and Security in the Internet Age”. Floyd Smith of COSCO’s Seniors Health and Wellness Institute was the presenter. There was a full house as Gyda Chud, co-president of JSA, welcomed the many people present and introduced JSA’s new video which focuses on JSA’s programs. These programs include Education, Advocacy, Outreach and Peer Support Services, directed to the growing demographic of all senior members of the Jewish and the general community of Greater Vancouver. Gyda mentioned that we should think of advocacy as a love story of seniors helping seniors.

Barb Mikulec, the vice-president of COSCO, and chair of the Health and Wellness Institute introduced the speaker, Floyd Smith. The Institute gives 300 free workshops around the province every year. The focus is on Health, Housing, and Income. Floyd Smith is the coordinator of the Institute. Their mission is to raise awareness of seniors’ issues in the province.

Barb met Floyd at the Surrey Retired Teachers Association where he was web master. Floyd taught for 35 years and was a computer coordinator, helping teachers for 25 years, and a sessional lecturer at the UBC Faculty of Education, Selkirk College Branch. Since retirement Floyd has been an active volunteer. He is presently Director of the BC Retired Teachers Association.

Beware: Your private information is public knowledge.

Floyd began by reminding us that since we are all online, we should be cognizant of the fact that the companies running the Internet are aware of our private information. We must be vigilant about security. He then went on to discuss the following eleven themes in detail:

1. Risks and Benefits; 2. Internet giants; 3. Online privacy; 4. Infections and vaccinations; 5. Computer security; 6. Passwords; 7. Internet of things; 8. Encryption; 9. E-mail; 10. Texting; 11. Online banking and shopping.


How can you be safe online?

We need to be careful about how we use our devices so that the parent companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft, even though they have access to our private information, cannot benefit too much from it. He suggested using Duck Duck Go as your search engine which does not track nor sell your data, as do the other companies. You should always keep your computer locked and have a strong password. Make sure that you have a back-up for your material. Be careful with e-mail and texting as “phishing” for data and/or “spoofing”, i.e., masquerading as a real person or company are common practices. Never click on a link from an unsolicited e-mail. Be extremely careful with online banking and shopping. You are not liable for items ordered with a stolen credit card but you will be with a debit card.

Floyd had many other tips and ideas for privacy and security. His use of overheads was very helpful. He mentioned the book by Shoshana Zuboff, called Age of Surveillance Capitalism, that goes into more detail on these issues.

Marilyn Berger, past president of JSA, thanked Floyd for his informative talk. She also spoke about the Light One Candle campaign by JSA. Help JSA celebrate Chanukah and light one candle by donating to support JSA programs. Don’t Let the Light Go Out!

Floyd was surrounded by many attendees who had more questions to ask him during the coffee break. We learned a great deal and had much to assimilate after this stimulating talk.

For more information on COSCO Health and Wellness Institute visit




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