10 Essential Public Computer Safety Tip
Whether you are traveling light and do not want to bring your laptop or you need to send a quick file to the office, there are times when a public computer can be a lifesaver. These public computer terminals are common sights in big cities and tourist destinations, showing up in hotel office centers, internet cafes and a myriad of other places.
Using one of these public computers may be convenient, but it is not always safe. If you fail to take the proper precautions, logging on to your email and other accounts from a public computer could put your privacy, and even your finances, at risk.
Fortunately, you can surf the web, transfer files and check your email from a public computer, all without putting your privacy at risk. Here are 10 public computer safety tips, so you can stay protected no matter where your travels take you.
- Increase your privacy and protect your data with a VPN service. If you use public computers frequently, subscribing to a virtual private network, or VPN, service can safeguard your privacy and help you surf more safely.
- Turn off password saving services. Saving your password in your browser is fine when you are the only user, but using password saving services on a public computer is just asking for trouble. Turn off these services and just say no when the browser asks if you want to save your login credentials.
- Avoid banking and other financial sites. No matter how safe you think you are, doing your banking on a public computer is a bad idea. If you must log on to your banking site, use a secure app on your phone or tablet.
- Clear the cache before you log out. Flushing the cache and clearing your browsing history provides an extra level of protection when using a public computer.
- Keep a close watch on your surroundings. Not all public computer surveillance is electronic – shoulder surfing is a real threat when using a computer in a public setting.
- Never leave your public computer unattended. If you need to step out for a few minutes to grab a drink or use the bathroom, log out of the public computer completely.
- Stick to reputable public computer providers. If the internet café or public computer purveyor seems shady, just keep going and look for a better place to get online.
- Reboot the computer when you are done. It may be easier to just log off, but it is safer to reboot the computer before you leave.
- Do not save files to the public computer. The files you save could inadvertently reveal details about your identity, details that hackers and snoops could use against you.
- Never leave anything behind. It is easy to forget your USB drive and other personal items, especially when you are in a hurry. Be sure to check your possessions before you leave and make sure you have everything you came in with.
There are times when using a public computer makes sense. If you are traveling, you might not want to cart your laptop around. If you are staying overnight, the computer stations at the hotel can be pretty enticing. Feel free to use those public computers – just be sure to do it safely. The 10 public computer safety tips listed above can help you surf safely and avoid the downside of easy access.