If you think you are safe on any PC you are sadly mistaken. Your home computer can be vulnerable to all sorts of viruses, malware etc., so just imagine how vulnerable a public access terminal can be. You need to be vigilant and protect yourself.
Public access location such as Internet cafes, cyber cafes, tele-centers and libraries can be an easy way to compromise your identity or personal information.
Here are some tips to help keep you safe while in a public access PC location.
Don’t save your logon information
Always log out of websites by clicking “log out” on the site. Simply closing a browser window is not enough. LOGOUT.
Many websites such as social networking websites, and webmail include automatic login features that will save your user name and password. Disable this option so no one can log in as you.
Never use the “Remember Me” option while logging into a website while using a public terminal.
Don’t leave the computer unattended with sensitive information on the screen
If you have to leave the public computer, log out of all programs and close all windows that might display sensitive information. Internet cafe software such as CyberCafePro has a built in session lock which allows you to walk-away while not closing your session. Ask the attendant if this feature is available in the location and ask how to use it.
Cover your tracks
Google Chrome offers “incognito” browser windows by pushing ctrl-shift-n on your keyboard. This is an excellent safety measure.
Pages you view in incognito tabs won’t stick around in your browser’s history, cookie store, or search history after you’ve closed all of your incognito tabs. Any files you download or bookmarks you create will be kept. Learn more about incognito browsing.
Internet Explorer offers InPrivate browsing that leaves no trace of specific web activity. To use this push ctrl-shift-p on your keyboard.
Erase Your Tracks
Internet Explorer and Google Chrome can keep record of your passwords and every page you visit, even after you’ve closed them and logged out. For both browsers use Ctrl-Shift-Delete to bring up their browser clearing option. Clear everything possible.
“Watch for over-the-shoulder snoops”
Microsoft Safety Tips recommend “When you use a public computer, be on the look out for thieves who look over your shoulder or watch as you enter sensitive passwords to collect your information.”
Do not enter sensitive information into a public computer
Microsoft published Five safety tips for using a public computer. One valuable tip is as follows:
These measures provide some protection against casual hackers who use a public computer after you have.
But keep in mind that an industrious thief might have installed sophisticated software on the public computer that records every keystroke and then emails that information back to the thief.
Then it doesn’t matter if you haven’t saved your information or if you’ve erased your tracks. They still have access to this information.
If you really want to be safe, avoid typing your credit card number or any other financial or otherwise sensitive information into any public computer.