PC Security - Tips for Safe Public Computer Use
We are a mobile world, and our computer use has also
become mobile. We can literally log on to the Internet anywhere from the
world, on laptops, mobile devices, and even on public computers. Public computers
are easy to find in Internet Cafes, libraries, airports, hotels, and many
other places. Unfortunately, most people don't know how to take proper security
measures when logging onto public computers.
First, if the public computer has access levels set so that people can insert
disks, download files, or even open email attachments, the computer is extremely
vulnerable to infection. These infections of public computers are usually
designed to collect information - such as when you visit the website of your
financial institution and log in. The virus can easily tell a third party
where you logged in, and what password and username you used.
If possible, avoid using a public computer to log on to any website where
a log in is required, or where personal information may be stored. Of course,
do your part in protecting others by not opening any attachments in email,
or downloading any software.
You can also protect your email account by creating a free email account,
and setting your regular email to forward to that address before you leave
on your trip. If you must use any information that may present a security
risk while using a public computer, make sure that you change the password
immediately upon your arrival home.
Public computers will often have a keylogger installed. This records every
key that you hit, in the order that you hit them on the keyboard. So, anything
you type on the public computer can literally be seen by whoever has managed
to install the key logger. Avoid making any credit card purchases while using
a public computer as well.
Another problem that you may find is that a feature called 'auto complete'
is turned on, or that the computer is set to store usernames and passwords.
Make absolutely sure that your information is not stored. Try typing in a
bogus username and password first. Then, close the browser, and go back to
the site, and try typing the same bogus username and password again to see
if it auto completes or if it was stored. If so, don't use your real information
on this computer!
When you are finished with a public computer, see it you will be allowed
to erase the history on it. Also check to see if cookies were stored, and
if possible, delete them. Try emptying temporary Internet files as well if
Another security risk that few people pay attention to when using a public
computer is that people may be nearby, watching everything that you do. Don't
assume that you type so fast that nobody could ever really know what you
are typing just by watching your hands. There are people that can watch nothing
more than your hands and know exactly what you typed!
Overall, use common sense when using public computers, and be aware of the
security risks involved. Do everything in your power to protect yourself,
and remember that public computers are bigger targets than personal computers
PC Security: Index
Stopping Spam Part 1
Stopping Spam Part 2
PC Security: Spam
Email Security and Spam
Protecting Computers From Viruses
Trojan Horse Viruses
Removing a Virus
Cell Phone Viruses
Firewalls Part 1
Firewalls Part 2
Security: Parental Control Software
Malware - Spyware and Adware
Pop Up Windows
Security: Safe Public Computer Use
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