How You Can Reduce the Extreme Dangers of Using Public Computers

dangerPublic computers in libraries, Internet cafes, airports, and copy shops are an extreme security risk. While you can take steps to reduce these risks, it is still very dangerous to access sensitive personal or client information on them. Start with the assumption that most public computers will have malware on them and let this govern your activities accordingly. The following steps can reduce some of the risks associated with public computers:

  • Try to turn on the “private browsing” feature.
  • Watch for over-the-shoulder thieves who may be peeking as you enter sensitive passwords to collect your information.
  • Uncheck or disable the “remember me” or “log in automatically next time” option.
  • Always log out of websites clicking “log out” on the site. It’s not enough to simply close the browser window or type in another address.
  • Delete your temporary Internet files, cookies and your history.
  • Never leave the computer unattended with sensitive information on the screen, even for a moment.
  • Never save documents on a public computer.

These measures will provide some protection against a casual hacker who searches a public computer you have used for any information that may remain on it. But keep in mind, a more sophisticated hacker may have installed a keylogger to capture passwords and other personal information entered on a public computer. In this scenario the above steps won’t prevent your information from falling into the hands of the hacker. This is why it is not a good idea to access sensitive client information or enter credit card numbers or other banking information on a public computer.

This is an excerpt from the “Cybercrime and law firms” issue LAWRPO Magazine, published December, 2013.

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