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Securely Using Public Computers

Friday, March 28th, 2008 by | Filed Under: Security Help

I have written several articles in the past about ways you can protect your computer, but what if you’re not using your own computer? What if you’re using a public computer instead (at a library or hotel, for example?) Those computers may not be as secure as your home system, and you need to take the proper steps to ensure your personal data stays safe. Here are some tips you can follow for securely using a public computer.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Take a look around before entering passwords or viewing personal information on the computer. Is anybody standing a little too close?

Don’t Do Online Banking

I know this seems like a no brainer, but people do it. If you’re using a public computer and you log in to your online banking Web site, you’re putting yourself at great risk. There is no way to tell if there’s spyware or adware on the computer you’re using that could steal your data. That’s why it’s never a good idea to do any of your banking on a public computer.

Don’t Save Anything

Would you bring a stack of tax documents to a hotel lobby and leave them there? Probably not! The same goes for saving any of your personal documents on a public computer. This one applies to files, passwords, music, pictures, downloads, etc. It’s just not a good idea to do anything like that on a public computer.

Don’t Buy Anything

This tip is similar to the first one. Buying something on a public computer usually involves some sort of financial information, which is simply a bad idea!

Delete Browser Temporary Files

This is a simple step that will help a lot! After you’re finished using a public computer, make sure you delete the browser temp files. To do that in Internet Explorer, go to Tools, Internet Options and, under the General tab, check Delete browsing history on exit. Then click the Delete button.

In the Delete Browsing History dialog box, check each box and click the Delete button at the bottom.

In Firefox, click on Tools, and select Clear Recent History.

In the Clear All History dialog box, you can choose a time frame, or just click Everything. Check each box and hit the Clear Now button at the bottom.

That way, no one else will know what you did on the computer.

Restart the Computer

This is another simple step that will do a lot of good. Restarting the computer after you’re done using it will delete a lot of the temporary files and it will clear out the memory of the computer. People waiting behind you to use the computer might not like the hold up, but when it comes to your safety, it’s a very important step.

Until next time, stay safe out there, my friends!

~ Gary

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