People in Their 30s and 40s are More Vulnerable to These 4 Cyberthreats

By Kate Hunger

Cybercriminals bank on the fact that technology users in their 30s and 40s are fans of email and frequently do business online.

With data breaches contributing to an industrywide rise in account takeovers, USAA Lead Security Advisor Richard Davey describes the most common cyber threats facing this demographic:

Phishing attacks

Phishing attacks are a bigger threat for people in this age group because they are heavy email users. Phishing scams attempt to trick people into divulging passwords or other personal identifying information by masquerading as communication — often email — from a legitimate financial institution or company.

“They are probably a little more likely to click on that phishing link because email is still one of their primary forms of communication,” Davey says.

Phishing scams usually lack personalized details found on legitimate communications. If you don’t see your full name, last four digits of your member number or other specific information, do not click or provide any information, Davey says.


Users in this demographic are more likely to update their operating systems and use antivirus software. However, their robust internet usage leaves them vulnerable to malware, malicious software that can wreak havoc by disabling a device, mining it for personal information or controlling it without the owner’s knowledge. Sometimes the attack is hiding in plain sight: Consider the watering hole attacks, in which malicious ads are placed on legitimate news, sports and other frequently visited websites.

“Think before you click: ‘Am I really going to the website I want to go to?’” Davey urges.

Using one logon for multiple accounts

Using the same logon information for multiple accounts makes it easier for your personal information to be compromised.

“When you do that, you are putting yourself at risk for a breach at any one of those organizations, putting all of their accounts at risk,” Davey says.

USAA members can tighten logon security with multifactor authentication, which adds another layer of security to an online banking profile by requiring a username, PIN and a one-time code generated by a security token. For more information, visit

Email is a treasure trove of personal information, including financial accounts and profiles. Take advantage of multifactor identification for your email account, if available.

“Your email account opens the door to a password reset for all those accounts,” Davey says. 

Work-from-home scams

A challenging job market can persuade members of this group to seek extra income. Beware “money mule” scams. These involve social media, email or classified ads offering a “finance manager opportunity” or similar work-from-home gigs. The would-be worker, or mule, is sent checks to process for a percentage. The checks are bogus and the worker is left holding the bag, Davey explains.

“If it seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t true,” Davey says.

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Safety guidelines are not intended to be all inclusive, but are provided for your consideration. Please use your own judgment to determine what safety features/procedures should be used in each unique situation.