Online Privacy & Security Tips for Youth with Disabilities

On Saturday the 19th, Partners for Youth with Disabilities held our annual Career Mentor Brunch. At this event, youth participants were able to network among a variety of volunteers from different fields, learning about their career backgrounds and getting support in a variety of topics: interview skills, building their resume, maintaining a professional online presence, and managing their SSI or SSDI benefits. The event was a huge success with over 30 attendees.

Svetlana Uimenkova (Staff Attorney at the Disability Law Center) led the presentation on Supplementary Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disabilty Insurance (SSDI). You can find a recording of this presentation online here. It was a pleasure to have her, and our youth and families all learned a great deal.

Additionally, we held a new workshop at this event: Your Online Presence: Impacts on Job Seekers & Employees. This workshop helped youth understand their rights while applying for jobs and while on the job, focusing on how companies are able to legally use social media to make employment-related decisions. It also included information on how youth can best protect their online privacy.

Below, we’ve included some of the information provided during that training about protecting yourself online.

Online Privacy & Data Security Tips

Make all software and system updates as soon as they are available. Surprisingly, according to security experts, this is the #1 thing you can do to protect yourself. Hackers are always trying to exploit vulnerabilities in your computer’s software, operating system, browser, etc., and tech companies are working just as fast to patch security holes. So when a patch is released, you should always install it ASAP to make sure you’re not leaving your computer unprotected against a vulnerability.

Use strong, unique passwords and a password manager. Longer passwords are better than confusing, random passwords. Honestly, it doesn’t matter if your password is gibberish; if it’s only 6 characters long, it’s not as secure as a basic password that’s 15 characters long. So create long passwords that are unique for each site/account you have, and store them in a password manager (i.e. LastPass).

Use two-factor authorization with your email addresses. This way, even if someone gets your email’s password, they still can’t into your account. Your email is the most important account to protect, because if a hacker gets access to your email, they can reset your passwords on any and all of the sites you have accounts on. Imagine waking up one morning and no longer having control over your email address, bank account, credit cards, or online identity. That’s why you protect your email address.

Do not enter your personal information into any site that does not have an SSL certificate (i.e. it should start as https: vs. http:). HTTPS sites are much more secure and encrypt user data, which is what you want.

If you can avoid it, do not use a debit card for online transactions. Use a credit card instead. This way, if someone does compromise one of your accounts, they’re not given access to your bank account. You can get your money back either way, but it takes time and you’re better off not exposing your actual bank account to risk.

Use an antivirus and/or malware software. Be protected and perform scans regularly.

Don’t click on any suspicious ads, open any suspicious emails, etc. Scammers are increasingly good at deceiving people too, so be aware.

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