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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 possible.

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 overall.

  PC Security: Index
  PC Security: Internet Browsers
  PC Security: Spam
  PC Security: Stopping Spam Part 1
  PC Security: Stopping Spam Part 2
  PC Security: Spam Scams
  PC Security: Email Security and Spam
  PC Security: Email Security
  PC Security: Computer Viruses
  PC Security: Protecting Computers From Viruses
  PC Security: Worm Viruses
  PC Security: Trojan Horse Viruses
  PC Security: Rootkits
  PC Security: Removing a Virus
  PC Security: Virus Hoaxes
  PC Security: Server Viruses
  PC Security: Home Network
  PC Security: Cell Phone Viruses
  PC Security: Spyware
  PC Security: Firewalls Part 1
  PC Security: Firewalls Part 2
  PC Security: Parental Control Software
  PC Security: Malware - Spyware and Adware
  PC Security: Data Backups
  PC Security: Pop Up Windows
  PC Security: Safe Public Computer Use

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