Using public computers safely

By | June 1, 2011
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Debbie is going on vacation and wants to know how to safely access her accounts from public computers and networks
I trust you guys to give me the correct information on this. I’m going to be on vacation for two weeks next month and I’ll be traveling around the country quite a bit. There will be times when I’ll need to check some of my online banking accounts and other personal accounts – and there may be times when I have to use public computers. Most other times I will be accessing the web from unsecured public networks with my laptops. Other than telling me not to do it (I have to) can you give me some tips on how to access the internet safely while traveling? I love your Premium newsletter! Thanks – Debbie.

Our answer
If you access the Internet from a public place, such as an Internet café, hotel, or airport kiosk, don’t log into private pages that need your personal passwords. It’s not secure because even if you log in safely and it’s a secure server, you don’t know what’s installed on that public computer. Their could be a keylogger installed – if so, someone could inspect and extract sensitive information from the browser cache. Don’t ever login to your bank account or credit card account from a public computer. Checking your email from a public computer may present a risk but you can change your password or set up temporary email account if you’re going to be on vacation for a substantial amount of time. You can have your email forwarded to your temporary account while your away. And Gmail accounts are free – so a temporary account is quick and easy to set up – and you protect your permanent email accounts. If you absolutely have to login to a private page (banking site, PayPal, or other sensitive financial site) here’s a tip you can use that will help you minimize the risk of a keylogger capturing your passwords and user IDs:

When entering your log-in information on a public computer do this:

1. Type the beginning portion of, say, your password, and then place the mouse cursor over the empty space of a web page, and type something there. Of course no text will appear, but the keylogger would think this text was part of your secret phrase. The keylogger tell the difference between what you type on what part of the page it just logs all keystrokes. Therefore, the keylogger will just record a succession of entries without knowing where the entries belong.

2. After typing a string of random characters in the empty space, switch back to your password field and continue entering valid information there.

3. Repeat the procedure a few more times so that the valid password becomes impossible to recognize.

4. Never type your password when on a public computer without at least attempting to defeat any keyloggers which may be installed. There might not be a keylogger installed, and there probably isn’t one, but always assume there i

One thought on “Using public computers safely

  1. Ken Roberts

    Cool advice, I like the part about typing somewhere on a blank spot it would really throw them for a loop./


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